Iran’s atomic agency says it wants to put nuclear deal ‘back on track’

Spokesperson says Tehran is eager to see landmark 2015 pact strengthened, as Europe says it won’t cave to regime’s ‘ultimatums’

Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi answers the press in the capital Tehran on July 17, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)
Spokesman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Behrouz Kamalvandi answers the press in the capital Tehran on July 17, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE)

Iran wants to bring the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers “back on track,” the Islamic Republic’s Atomic Energy Organization said Thursday, a day after Tehran said it will suspend some of its commitments to the international agreement unless the terms are renegotiated.

“Our goal is to strengthen the JCPOA and bring it back on track,” state news agency IRNA quoted spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying, referring to the nuclear deal.

A year after the US withdrew from the accord, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a televised address Wednesday that signatories to the deal have 60 days to come up with a plan to shield his country — already laboring under economic hardship — from the sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump. If negotiations fail, Iran will restart uranium enrichment to levels banned under the agreement, he warned.

Rouhani compared the situation to a medical emergency for the Islamic Republic, only 40 years after its founding.

“We felt that the nuclear deal needs a surgery, and the painkiller pills of the last year have been ineffective,” Rouhani said. “This surgery is for saving the deal, not destroying it.”

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, from left, wait for the start of prior to a bilateral meeting as part of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, Friday, July 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

European powers on Thursday rejected “ultimatums” from Tehran but vowed to fight to save the Iran nuclear deal. The European Union urged Iran to respect the international agreement curbing the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions, saying it aims to continue trading with the country despite US sanctions.

The EU and major European powers — Britain, France and Germany — also said that they “note with great concern the statement made by Iran concerning its commitments” to the nuclear deal.

The Trump administration pulled America out of the deal in May 2018 saying it does nothing to stop Iran from developing missiles or destabilizing the Middle East. The Europeans insist that the pact is an important pillar of regional and global security and was never meant to address those other issues.

Trump hit back at Tehran’s threats on Wednesday by tightening the economic screws further, slapping sanctions on the Iranian mining industry.

US President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on May 8, 2019 (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

The White House, which has already taken steps to scupper Iran’s oil exports — its crucial money-maker — said the steel and mining sector was the country’s second-largest source of foreign revenue, accounting for 10 percent of exports.

“Tehran can expect further actions unless it fundamentally alters its conduct,” Trump said in a statement.

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