President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday Iran will never seek nuclear weapons with or without a nuclear deal, calling on major European powers to refrain from repeating the US blunder of violating the 2015 nuclear accord.
“We have never sought nuclear weapons ...with or without the nuclear deal, we will never seek nuclear weapons,” Rouhani said.
“The European powers will be responsible for the consequences of violating the pact,” he added.
Britain, France, and Germany launched a process last week charging Iran with failing to observe the terms of the multinational nuclear agreement, a move that could eventually see the UN Security Council reimpose international sanctions on the country.
Iran has criticized the three European nations for inaction over sanctions the United States reimposed after unilaterally withdrawing from the landmark accord in May 2018.
Iran has rejected the European move to trigger the dispute mechanism of the deal, saying it "has no legal basis".
The 2015 nuclear deal reached with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.
A year after the US pullout, Iran began to roll back its commitments to the accord – the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – in retaliation.
Iran's latest and final step in January entailed forgoing the limit on the number of machines used to make uranium more potent.
Rouhani said Iran will return to its nuclear commitments if the European signatories hold their part of the bargain.
“The very day you return to your commitments, we will live up to our own commitments,” he said.
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said America’s renewed threat of slapping trade tariffs on European auto industry, proves that the EU submission to US President Donald Trump's domineering tactics on the Iran nuclear deal only worked to “whet his appetite.”
In a post on his Twitter account on Wednesday, Zarif attached a screenshot of a Washington Post report, which covered Trump’s most recent threat to put hefty tariffs on European cars at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday if trade negotiations did not go his way.
Zarif said he had already warned the Europeans of such US measures in an earlier tweet.
Trump’s new threat came days after the three European signatories triggered the dispute mechanism.
Shortly after the mechanism was activated, a Washington Post report revealed that Trump had threatened to impose a 25-percent tariff on European automobile imports if the trio — known as E3 — refused to formally accuse Iran of violating the JCPOA.
In his tweet on Wednesday, Zarif told the Europeans that Trump had just issued yet another tariff threat despite the European trio’s decision to “sell their integrity” by surrendering to Trump’s pressure.
“Sorry to say I told you so: When E3 sold out remnants of #JCPOA to avoid Trump tariffs last week, I warned that it would only whet his appetite. After selling their integrity and losing any moral/legal ground, ANOTHER tariff threat. EU would do better to exert its sovereignty,” he tweeted.
Reuters contributed to this story.