The Latest: ‘Seriously?’ Iran asks of White House’s latest
VIENNA (AP) — The latest on Iran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers (all times local):
Iran’s foreign minister is expressing his exasperation over a White House statement on his country’s nuclear program.
Mohammad Javad Zarif simply wrote early Tuesday on Twitter: “Seriously?”
That was in response to a White House statement late Monday claiming: “There is little doubt that even before the deal’s existence, Iran was violating its terms.”
The White House did not elaborate on how Iran could break the terms of the deal that had yet to be implemented.
Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers saw it limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from the accord last year. On Monday, officials acknowledged Iran broke through the limit the deal placed on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
Saudi Arabia says nine people, including one Indian, have been wounded in a drone attack on a southern airport by Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.
The kingdom announced the attack in a statement carried by its state-run Saudi Press Agency early Tuesday.
It said the attack targeted the Abha regional airport, which has repeatedly been targeted by Houthi attacks in recent weeks that killed one person and wounded dozens more.
The Houthi’s Al-Masirah satellite news channel earlier claimed an attack on Abha’s airport.
The attacks come amid heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers. On Monday, Iran announced it broke through the stockpile limitations of the deal, a year after President Donald Trump withdrew America from the accord.
The White House says President Donald Trump spoke by phone Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss Iran’s increased production of low-enriched uranium in excess of limits in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
Trump pulled the U.S. out of the nuclear agreement in May and he told reporters at the White House on Monday that Iran is “playing with fire.”
Iran’s move to follow through with its threat to increase the stockpiles raises the pressure on the other signatories — Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain, along with the European Union — to keep the deal in place.
The White House says Trump and Macron also talked about the Group of 20 summit that just concluded in Japan, as well as Trump’s meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The U.S. says its maximum pressure campaign will continue until Iran’s leaders change course.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham issued a statement Monday in response to Iran’s announcement that it will have more than 660 pounds (300 kilograms) of low-enriched uranium by Thursday, in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.
The statement added that the U.S. will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
Grisham says the nuclear deal, which Trump pulled out of in May, should never have allowed Iran to enrich uranium at any level.
She says the longstanding nonproliferation standard of “no enrichment for Iran” must be restored and says Tehran must end its nuclear ambitions and “malign” behavior.
Iran denies it is seeking a nuclear bomb and says its program is for civilian purposes.
The European Union is urging Iran abide by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, as Tehran breaches the stockpile limits of low-enriched uranium set under its terms.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s spokeswoman said Monday that the EU urges Iran “to reverse this step and to refrain from further measures that undermine the nuclear deal.”
Spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic underlined that Europe “remains fully committed to the agreement as long as Iran continues to fully implement its nuclear commitments.”
The EU has been struggling to keep the accord functioning, a year after President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out unilaterally, and re-imposed heavy sanctions on Iran.
The U.N. says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging Iran to honor its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, following the U.N. nuclear agency’s confirmation that Tehran has breached the limit for low-enriched uranium.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Monday that Iran should follow the agreement, while the remaining signatories — which include Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — look for ways to save the deal and deliver the sanctions relief it initially promised Iran.
He said breaching the uranium limit would not help secure Iran “economic benefits.”
Dujarric said the U.N. continues to be in contact with Iranian officials at various levels.
The U.S. imposed crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy, after unilaterally withdrawing from the deal a year ago.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Iran’s move to break limits on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium is a “significant step toward making a nuclear weapon.”
Netanyahu said Monday that Israel would “soon unveil more proof that Iran was lying all the time” about its nuclear program.
The Israeli prime minister has been an outspoken critic of Iran and has long accused Tehran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has insisted that its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes.
Last year Netanyahu presented what he said was a secret Iranian nuclear archive proving that Tehran had lied about pursuing nuclear arms.
Netanyahu is calling upon European countries to “stand by your commitments” to impose sanctions against Iran if it violates the nuclear agreement reached with world powers in 2015.
Britain is urging Iran to reverse course and stick to the terms of the nuclear deal it signed with world powers.
Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was “deeply worried” by Iran’s announcement that it had surpassed the stockpile of low-enriched uranium allowed under the 2015 agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
In a tweet, he urged Tehran “to avoid any further steps away from JCPoA & come back into compliance.”
Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesman, James Slack, said the announcement was “extremely concerning.”
It comes after the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from the agreement and imposed heavy new sanctions on Iran.
Slack said Britain will continue working with the remaining signatories, particularly France and Germany, to keep the deal in place.
A senior Russian diplomat says that U.S. sanctions have provoked Iran’s move to break the limit set on its uranium stockpiles.
Iran acknowledged Monday it had exceeded the limit set on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles by a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, its first major departure from the agreement a year after Washington unilaterally withdrew from it.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov noted that Iran had warned of its move in advance. He urged all parties to “avoid escalation,” saying that Iran’s move “causes regret, but shouldn’t be overdramatized.”
Ryabkov said the development is a “natural result” of the U.S.’s maximum pressure campaign.
He added that Iran was facing “unprecedented and unthinkable” U.S. sanctions, including an oil trade embargo, which are an attempt to “strangle” the country.
The United Nations’ atomic watchdog agency is confirming Iran has surpassed the stockpile of low-enriched uranium allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said its director general, Yukiya Amano, has informed its board of governors that the organization had verified Monday Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched up to 3.67% had exceeded the 300 kilograms allowed.
Iran earlier in the day had announced that it had exceeded the limit, as it threatened it would.
Last year, the U.S. unilaterally pulled out of the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The other signatories — including the UK, France and Germany — involved have been struggling to keep Iran within the deal.
The deal promises Iran economic and sanctions relief for limits on its nuclear program.