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Iran threatens to resume higher uranium enrichment in standoff on nuclear deal

Iran threatens to resume higher uranium enrichment in standoff on nuclear deal

FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih (not pictured) in Baghdad, Iraq, March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani/File Photo LONDON (Reuters) – Iran will resume high level enrichment of uranium if world powers did not protect its interests against U.S. sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday,

FILE PHOTO: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference with Iraqi President Barham Salih (not pictured) in Baghdad, Iraq, March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Iran will resume high level enrichment of uranium if world powers did not protect its interests against U.S. sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, responding to the U.S. withdrawal from a nuclear deal a year ago.

In a speech broadcast on national television, Rouhani said the remaining signatories – Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – had 60 days to make good on their promises to protect Iran’s oil and banking sectors.

Rouhani has written to the leaders of those countries, saying it will start rolling back some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal on Wednesday, and will no longer sell enriched uranium and heavy water to other nations.

“If the five countries came to the negotiating table and we reached an agreement, and if they could protect our interests in oil and banking sectors, we will go back to square one (and will resume our commitments),” Rouhani said.

Rouhani warned of a firm response if Iran’s nuclear case is referred again to the United Nations Security Council, but said Tehran was ready for negotiations over its nuclear programme.

“The Iranian people and the world should know that today is not the end of the JCPOA,” Rouhani said, using the acronym for the nuclear deal. “These are actions in line with the JCPOA.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also tweeted “After a year of patience, Iran stops measures that US has made impossible to continue.”

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal last year, and subsequently reimposed tough sanctions on Iran, including on its lifeblood oil exports with the stated intent of reducing them to zero and starving Iran’s economy.

Sources at the French presidency said on Tuesday that international sanctions could be reimposed on Iran if it reneges on commitments under its nuclear deal.

Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; editing by Darren Schuettler

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