Iran warns of 'strong step' from atomic deal if no new terms

Hassan Rouhani

Hassan Rouhani

Iran said Monday its views have been converging with those of France on ways to save a nuclear deal at risk of unravelling since the USA withdrew past year.

Iran's government spokesman says President Hassan Rouhani is not slated to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump and that no conditions have been set for such a meeting.

A French foreign ministry spokeswoman indicated Monday that, underpinning Macron's efforts to make progress on the issue, including at last week's G7 summit in France, "discussions are continuing with Iran on reaching a de-escalation of tensions".

President Emmanuel Macron and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, spoke for two hours by telephone, a spokesman said, as Paris continued its diplomatic initiative to salvage the deal which has been at risk of unravelling since the United States withdrew previous year.

Macron has urged the USA to offer some sort of relief to Iran, such as lifting sanctions on oil sales to China and India, or a new credit line to enable exports in return for its compliance with the nuclear deal.

Mr Rabiei described Iran's strategy to journalists at a press conference in Tehran as 'commitment for commitment'.

France has proposed to extend to Iran a credit line of US$15 billion for oil "pre-purchases" in exchange for full compliance with the nuclear deal, parts of which Iran has said it had started to breach, Iranian semi-official Tasnim news agency reported on Monday, citing conservative lawmaker Ali Motahari. This is the agenda of our talks'.

The talks are being held against the backdrop of an Iranian threat to take a third as yet unspecified step away from the nuclear deal as early as Thursday or Friday.

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, or JCPOA as the deal is known.

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It also said Iran's total stockpile of uranium, which under the accord should be no more than the equivalent of 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of uranium hexafluoride, now stood at roughly 360 kilograms.

Enriched uranium at the 3.67 per cent level is enough for peaceful pursuits and is far below weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent. Muradov told TASS on Tuesday that while some Iranian businessmen have expressed interest in establishing a foothold on the peninsula, Crimea "has not seen active steps being taken by the Iranian side". "If Tehran is not satisfied regarding the implementation of commitments within the deadline, we will take a strong step in reducing our commitments", said Rabiei during a press briefing.

The nuclear deal is meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons in exchange for economic relief.

Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since Trump unilaterally withdrew the USA from the nuclear accord and began reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran.

That has left the other signatories - Germany, Britain, France, Russia and China - struggling to come up with enough incentives to keep Iran in the deal.

An Iranian oil tanker pursued by the United States across the Mediterranean Sea slowed to a near-stop Sunday off the coast of Syria, where America's top diplomat alleges it will be unloaded despite denials from Tehran.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has alleged the ship is bound for a refinery in Syria, which was the reason authorities had seized the vessel off the coast of Gibraltar in July.

The US has warned countries not to accept the Adrian Darya, which carries 2.1 million barrels of Iranian crude oil worth some £106 million.

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