Iran Condemns US Sanctions Move
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has condemned the US for vowing to impose what it said would be the “strongest sanctions in history” on his country.
Measures outlined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he said, showed the US was a prisoner of its “failed policies” and it would suffer the consequences.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini also criticised the US.
She said Mr Pompeo had failed to show how dropping the 2015 nuclear deal would make the Middle East safer.
There was, she said, “no alternative” to the agreement, which US President Donald Trump vowed earlier this month to abandon, and she said the EU would stick by it if Iran met its commitments.
Despite the EU’s official position, some of Europe’s biggest firms who rushed to do business with Iran after the nuclear deal now find themselves forced to choose between investing there or trading with the US.
Is the US on its own?
Israel praised the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the pact but the move was roundly criticised by fellow signatories, including France, Germany, the UK and Russia.
All of the above signatories pledged to honour their commitments under the deal.
Mr Pompeo has made clear he expects the backing of his allies in Europe but also called for support from “Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, India, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea [and] the UAE”.
What was agreed under the 2015 deal?
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) saw Iran agree to limit the size of its stockpile of enriched uranium – which is used to make reactor fuel but also nuclear weapons – for 15 years and the number of centrifuges installed to enrich uranium for 10 years.
Iran also agreed to modify a heavy water facility so it could not produce plutonium suitable for a bomb.
In return, sanctions imposed by the UN, US and EU that had crippled Iran’s economy were lifted.
The deal was agreed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, UK, France, China and Russia – plus Germany.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, and its compliance with the deal has been verified by the IAEA.