Iran on Wednesday upped the ante in its standoff with the United States and European powers over the 2015 nuclear deal from which the Trump administration withdrew last month, with its United Nations envoy warning it would not cooperate fully with nuclear inspectors until the future of the deal was resolved.
Reza Najafi also gave the European parties to the nuclear deal several weeks to salvage the accord.
“A few weeks means a few weeks, not a few months,” said Najafi, the Reuters news agency reported.
The Iranian envoy signaled that international inspectors from the IAEA would not receive expanded access to its facilities while the deal remained precarious, adding “no one should expect Iran to go to implement more voluntary measures.”
“But I should emphasize that it does not mean that right now Iran will restart any activities contrary to the (deal),” Najafi added. “These are only preparatory works.”
On Tuesday, Iran informed the UN nuclear watchdog that it would increase its nuclear enrichment capacity, yet stay within the provisions of the accord.
And on Wednesday, Iran’s nuclear chief inaugurated the Islamic Republic’s new nuclear enrichment facility at Natanz, which is geared toward producing centrifuges that will operate within the limits of the nuclear deal.
The EU, which is working to save the 2015 agreement, warned Tuesday that the Iranian announcement would not help build confidence in the Iranian program, but said it did not constitute a breach of the deal.
Last month, the US withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement that Iran signed with the US, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany, saying it would reimpose sanctions on foreign companies working in the Islamic Republic by November.
The EU is trying to come up with ways to persuade Iran to stick with the deal by protecting the economic benefits it gained when tough sanctions were lifted in return for it halting the weapons-capable aspects of its nuclear program.