“Our advice to Europe and the United States is to go back to logic and to the negotiating table,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images
QUINT FORGEY07/03/2019 06:54 AM EDT
Iran will begin enhancing its enrichment of uranium this weekend, President Hassan Rouhani warned Wednesday — signaling Tehran’s move away from the specifics of the 2015 multinational pact meant to curb the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions.
Rouhani said Iran will “take the next step” on Sunday to increase uranium enhancement to “any amount that we want,” adding, “If you want to express regret and issue a statement, you can do it now.”
The remarks, reported by The Associated Press, come after Tehran’s announcement Monday that it had breached the roughly 300 kilogram uranium stockpile limit established by the nuclear deal, which also prohibits Iran from enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent. Enrichment levels of roughly 90 percent would be required for nuclear weapons capabilities.
“We will take over 3.67,” Rouhani said Wednesday, threatening the deal’s European signatories — France, Germany and the United Kingdom — to begin work on providing Tehran international relief from Trump administration sanctions meant to hobble Iran’s economy.
“Our advice to Europe and the United States is to go back to logic and to the negotiating table,” Rouhani said. “Go back to understanding, to respecting the law and resolutions of the U.N. Security Council. Under those conditions, all of us can abide by the nuclear deal.”
President Emmanuel Macron of France said Tuesday that he “took note with concern” of Iran’s decision to plow through the deal’s uranium caps, according to the AP, and pledged to hold Iran to previous commitments while ensuring it enjoys the “economic advantages of the accord.”
The foreign ministers of France, Germany and the U.K., as well as the European Union’s foreign policy chief, implored Iran in a statement Tuesday to recognize the jointly negotiated uranium limits “and to refrain from further measures that undermine the nuclear deal” while the nations continue “urgently considering next steps,” the AP reported.
Asked Monday about Iran’s noncompliance with the deal, President Donald Trump said he had “no message” for officials in Tehran.
“They know what they’re doing,” he told reporters in the Oval Office. “They know what they’re playing with, and I think they’re playing with fire.”
Trump repeated his warning late Wednesday afternoon in a tweet: “Rouhani says that they will Enrich Uranium to ‘any amount we want’ if there is no new Nuclear Deal. Be careful with the threats, Iran. They can come back to bite you like nobody has been bitten before!”nu
Trump last week imposed new economic penalties against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and several senior military leaders after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claimed responsibility for shooting down a U.S. Navy surveillance drone. The administration in June blamed Tehran for attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, allegations that the Iranian government denies.
CLARIFICATION: This article has been adjusted to reflect Iran’s attitude toward the nuclear agreement.