Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif made the comments in a conference in India on Wednesday, a day after Britain, France and Germany formally triggered the dispute mechanism in the nuclear deal, saying that Iran had progressively scaled back its commitments under the agreement.
The move, which came at a time of red-hot tensions between Iran and the United States, sparked anger in Tehran and could eventually lead to the reimposition of United Nations sanctions on Iran.
"They are not buying oil from us, all of their companies have withdrawn from Iran. So Europe is in violation," Zarif told a conference in New Delhi, insisting that the existing deal was “not dead” and its future now "depends on Europe".
Europeans bullied by US
Zarif pointed to strong European economy and said, “Why do you allow the United States to bully you around?"
The Iran nuclear deal was struck in Vienna by the Islamic Republic, the three European nations, the United States, China and Russia.
But US President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the deal in 2018 and reimposed sanctions against Iran. Since then Iran has walked back on its commitments including on processing uranium.
On Tuesday, Iran's Foreign Ministry in response to the European statement on triggering the ‘dispute mechanism’ of the nuclear accord, said that "if the Europeans... seek to abuse (this process), they must also be prepared to accept the consequences".
“The action of the three European countries is passive and taken from a position of weakness,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said.
However, he said Iran remains “fully ready to support any goodwill and constructive effort to save this important international agreement”.
The Europeans stressed that they want to “resolve the impasse through constructive diplomatic dialogue” and made no threat of sanctions in their statement.
The three countries said in a letter to the European Union’s foreign policy chief that they had no choice but to trigger the deal’s “dispute mechanism”.
Russia condemned the "thoughtless" European move, warning it risked causing a "new escalation".
A US State Department spokesperson said Washington fully supported the three countries, adding "further diplomatic and economic pressure is warranted".
The dispute mechanism of the nuclear deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – is a provision that allows a party to claim significant non-compliance by another party before a joint commission.
If the issue is not resolved at the joint commission, it then goes to an advisory board and eventually to the UN Security Council which could reimpose sanctions.
Iran resumed activities to enrich uranium in response to the US pulling out of the deal.
Its latest step in January to forego the limit on the number of centrifuges used in uranium enrichment prompted the Europeans to trigger the mechanism.
The three European powers said, however, that they "once again express our commitment" to the deal and indicated their "determination to work with all participants to preserve it".
"Our hope is to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA."
The trio also noted that they would not join "a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran" launched by US President Donald Trump.
Trump's move meant Iran has not benefitted from the sanctions relief it had hoped for, creating more trouble for its economy.
Yet even as the EU powers made clear their commitment to the deal, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Tuesday he would be willing to work on a "Trump deal" to replace the JCPOA.
"If we are going to get rid of it, let's replace it and let's replace it with the Trump deal," he said.
UK-US trade deal
A leading Republican voice on Iran has said Boris Johnson risks jeopardizing a free-trade deal with the US unless he pulls the UK out of the Iran nuclear deal.
The warning by Richard Goldberg, a member of the White House National Security Council (NSC) until last week, highlights the dilemmas British foreign and defense policymakers will face as the UK tries to steer its own course between Washington and Brussels after Brexit.
Goldberg told the BBC, “The question for Prime Minister Johnson is: As you are moving towards Brexit, as your supporters of Brexit really do not like the nuclear deal, want you to get out of the nuclear deal … what are you going to do post-31 January, as you come to Washington to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the United States?”
Goldberg said, “It’s absolutely in his interests and the people of Great Britain’s interests to join with President [Donald] Trump, with the United States, to realign your foreign policy away from Brussels, and to join the maximum pressure campaign to keep all of us safe.”
AFP, the Guardian and Press TV contributed to this story.