Zarif challenges EU claim of upholding JCPOA obligations
President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday said Iran only began scaling back its nuclear commitments a year after the US withdrawal from the 2015 atomic deal to give the other parties time to make up for it.
"We waited for a year," Rouhani told a televised news conference.
"Nobody in the world can blame us by saying 'Why are you abandoning your commitments under the JCPOA today and why have you launched Fordo today?'" he said.
"This is a problem that the enemy has created for us," he said, referring to Iran's archfoe, the United States.
Iran's approach, he said, was to take "the path of resistance and perseverance" by reducing commitments under the JCPOA and engaging in negotiations.
"We are negotiating with the world... they are giving us proposals, we're giving them proposals. Up until today, I have not accepted the proposals I've been given."
A year after the US pullout from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran began reducing its commitments to the deal hoping to win concessions from those still party to the accord.
Iran's latest measure came last week, when engineers began feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into mothballed enrichment centrifuges at the underground Fordo plant south of Tehran.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran's stockpiles of low-enriched uranium exceeds the amount allowed by the JCPOA.
It also said Iran continues to enrich uranium up to 4.5%, above the 3.67% allowed.
The agency says as of Nov. 3, Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium was 372.3 kilograms (820.78 pounds) compared to 241.6 kilograms reported on Aug. 19, and past the 202.8 kilogram limit.
On Monday Britain, France, Germany and the European Union said Iran's decision to restart activities at Fordo was "inconsistent" with the 2015 nuclear deal.
"The E3/EU have fully upheld their JCPOA commitments, including sanctions-lifting as foreseen under the JCPOA," they said.
"It is now critical that Iran upholds its JCPOA commitments and works with all JCPOA participants to de-escalate tensions."
EU commitment questioned
Britain, France, Germany and the EU have been trying to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal since the US unilaterally withdrew from it in May last year and began reimposing sanctions.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif challenged those effects on Tuesday, accusing the European nations of hypocrisy for criticizing its latest step back from a nuclear deal while failing to fulfill their commitments of relief from US sanctions.
"'Fully upheld commitments under JCPOA' YOU? Really?" he tweeted.
Zarif said Iran had already "triggered and exhausted" a dispute resolution mechanism in the troubled accord.
The minister also noted that Iran is actually using the solutions provided in Paragraph 36 of the agreement in reciprocation for Washington’s pullout in May 2018 and Europe’s failure to hold up its end of the bargain.
Zarif also posted Iran’s Foreign Ministry letter to the Europeans dating back to November 6, 2018 which outlined “Iran’s right to react and protect its national interests.”
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday despite all difficulties, the bloc's foreign ministers have once again reaffirmed their support for the full implementation of the JCPOA.
"Let me stress that there was again today, around our table, full commitment to the [nuclear] agreement (officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA) that remains crucial for our security even if it is increasingly difficult to preserve it," Mogherini told reporters after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.
"We will continue efforts to have a full implementation of the agreement," she added.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass had on Monday threatened the use of "all the mechanisms laid down in the agreement" to make Iran comply with its obligations under the JCPOA.
AFP, AP and Press TV contributed to this story.