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Iran Gives Europe an Ultimatum

Tehran wants new terms on nuke deal, or it will take 'strong step' away from it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 2, 2019 9:33 AM CDT
In this July 7, 2019, photo, Iran's government spokesman Ali Rabiei speaks in a press briefing in Tehran, Iran. Iran will "take a strong step" away from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers if Europe...   (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)
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(Newser) – Iran will "take a strong step" away from its 2015 nuclear deal if Europe cannot offer new terms, a government rep said Monday as top Iranian diplomats traveled to France and Russia for last-minute talks. Ali Rabiei reinforced the deadline Iran had set for Friday for Europe to offer it a way to sell its crude oil on the global market, reports the AP. Crushing US sanctions imposed after President Trump withdrew America from the deal a year ago have halted those sales. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was in Moscow, while his deputy was to travel to Paris with a team of economists in a renewed diplomatic push. The developments come after French President Emmanuel Macron surprised the Group of Seven summit by inviting Zarif last week. Rabiei described Iran's strategy as "commitment for commitment." "Iran's oil should be bought and its money should be accessible to return to Iran," Rabiei said.

It's unclear what the terms of negotiation are. In theory, anyone caught buying Iranian crude oil would be subject to US sanctions and potentially locked out of the American financial market. Already, Iran has gone over limits set by the deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed last week that Iran's stockpile of low-enriched uranium still exceeds the amount allowed by the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. It remains unclear what further step Iran will take, though it could involve restarting advanced centrifuges prohibited by the deal or further bumping up its enrichment of uranium. Iran insists the steps it has taken so far are easily reversible. "We will announce implementation of the third step in a letter to the Europeans if the Europeans do not implement necessary measures by Thursday," said Zarif. Meeting in Moscow with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov, Zarif reiterated that it was up to Europe to ensure the deal's survival. Iran will "be complying with its obligations in full when the Europeans comply with theirs in full," Zarif told journalists.

(Read more Iran stories.)

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