Iran’s Rouhani renews threat to reduce nuclear deal commitment

Iran’s Rouhani renews threat to reduce nuclear deal commitment

Against backdrop of Gulf tensions, Iranian president warns Tehran will ‘inevitably have to take more measures’ if it doesn’t see ‘proper response’ from accord’s other signatories

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a session of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, June 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a session of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, June 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Vladimir Voronin)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday reiterated that Tehran would reduce its adherence to the international accord curbing its nuclear program if it does not see “positive signals” from the deal’s other signatories.

“It is obvious that Iran cannot unilaterally remain committed to the JCPOA, and it is necessary that the other countries contribute to the survival of this important agreement,” Rouhani was quoted saying by the official Mehr news agency during an international conference in Tajikistan, using the initials of the nuclear deal’s official name, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

He warned Iran would “inevitably have to take more measures” if it did not receive a “proper response,” but did not spell out what such a response must entail.

“Regarding the JCPOA, I would like to remind you that the full compliance of Iran to its obligations has repeatedly been approved by the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency],” Rouhani claimed.

In this file photo from April 3, 2007, an Iranian flag flutters outside the building housing the reactor of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the Iranian port town of Bushehr. (Behrouz Mehri/AFP)

Iran threatened in May to resume high-level uranium enrichment in 60 days if a new deal was not negotiated by then. It has since upped its rates of uranium enrichment and earlier this month the UN’s nuclear watchdog, IAEA, said it could not confirm Iranian compliance, the first time it has done so since the 2015 deal was inked.

US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord last year and reimposed American sanctions on Iran, faulting the deal for not addressing Tehran’s ballistic missile work or its support for armed groups in the Middle East.

Besides Iran, the remaining signatories to the deal are Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

Rouhani’s comments Saturday came just days after an attack on a pair of tankers in the Gulf of Oman, an incident the US has blamed on Iran.

Trump on Friday said the attack had “Iran written all over it” and called the country “a nation of terror.”

Calling into “Fox & Friends” Friday, Trump said of the attacks, “Iran did do it.” He cited video purporting to show an Iranian boat removing what the US says is an unexploded mine from one of the vessels.

Also on Friday, an US official told CNN that Iranian forces in the Gulf of Oman fired a missile at a US drone hours before the alleged attack. The drone had spotted Iranian boats approaching the tankers before the sabotage occurred. The surface-to-air missile launched at the drone missed its target and fell into the sea, the official said.

This June 13, 2019, image released by the US military’s Central Command, shows damage and a suspected mine on the Kokuka Courageous in the Gulf of Oman near the coast of Iran. (US Central Command via AP)

The US military on Friday released a video it said shows Iran’s Revolutionary Guard removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the oil tankers, suggesting the Islamic republic sought to remove evidence of its involvement from the scene.

The black-and-white footage, as well as still photographs released by the US military’s Central Command on Friday, appeared to show the limpet mine on the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous.

The ships’ operators offered no immediate explanation on who or what caused the damage against the Norwegian-owned MT Front Altair and the Kokuka Courageous. Each was loaded with petroleum products, and the Front Altair burned for hours, sending up a column of thick, black smoke.

Tehran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Friday fired back at Washington, accusing the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia of a plot to “sabotage diplomacy,” and appeared to insinuate that those countries were behind the assaults.

Iran earlier denied involvement via a statement from its mission to the United Nations.

Thursday’s attack resembled that of an attack in May targeting four oil tankers off the Emirati port of Fujairah. US officials similarly accused Iran of targeting the ships with limpet mines, which are magnetic and attach to the hulls of a ship. The mines disable, but don’t sink, a vessel.

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