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Iran rolls back nuclear commitments under pact abandoned by Washington

Iran rolls back nuclear commitments under pact abandoned by Washington

Iran has delivered letters to ambassadors outlining its partial withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, state television reported, without elaborating on what steps it plans to take.

According to Russian Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Tehran's backtracking on the agreement was due to external pressure. Already, the White House has announced the deployment of a United States aircraft carrier and a bomber wing to the Persian Gulf over unspecified threats from Iran.

The minister also stressed that Iran would be taking steps concerning the nuclear deal if the European Union is unable to help Tehran counter U.S. sanctions.

The announcement - coming a year to the day since U.S. president Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the accord, which was also signed by Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and the European Union - raises the prospect of the deal collapsing completely.

Iran's hard-line Javan newspaper, associated with the Revolutionary Guard, said Wednesday would "ignite the matchstick for burning the deal".

The news came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled to Baghdad on an unannounced visit on Tuesday amid rising tensions with Iran.

But under the Trump administration, the USA exited the deal and revived sanctions, including an embargo against Iran's economically important oil sector. The Trump administration also said it will end a waiver program that allowed some nations to circumvent USA sanctions and continue buying Iranian oil without suffering penalties.

The move comes a year after the USA unilaterally withdrew from the deal, over the stringent objections of other signatories. Officials suggest they serve as a check on Iranian ambitions and help ensure that Islamic State fighters do not regroup.

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France was the first European Union country to react, warning that Europe will have no choice but to impose economic sanctions against Iran if it steps back from the deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency - the world's nuclear watchdog agency - has repeatedly verified Iran's compliance with the nuclear deal since it was adopted, but President Trump, even before he was elected, disparaged the hard-won agreement as too generous to Iran.

Iran's Supreme National Security Council said the measure was necessary to "secure its rights and bring back balance" after Washington's abandonment of the agreement exactly one year ago on May 8, 2018.

The comment was the first from an Israeli official on the matter.

The U.S. last week stopped issuing waivers for countries importing Iranian crude oil, a crucial source of cash for Iran's government.

The Wall Street Journal cited European diplomats as saying that Iran may ramp up research into centrifuges that could produce highly enriched uranium more quickly. This includes the establishment of a special payments system to help global companies who want to continue trading with Iran to bypass sanctions. That's compared to the 10,000kg of higher-enriched uranium it once had.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran does not at the current stage consider itself committed to observing restrictions regarding storing enriched uranium stocks and heavy water stocks", the council said. Weapons-grade uranium needs to be enriched to around 90 percent. Iran has previously enriched to 20 per cent.


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