Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Wednesday his country would end its compliance with two particular conditions of the country’s nuclear deal.
President Donald Trump announced America’s withdrawal from the deal that has since been on life support as European, Russian and Chinese signatories endeavor to save it.
Rouhani did not signal the end of deal entirely, but gave Europe an ultimatum: It will have 60 days to either follow the Trump administration or resume oil trade with Iran to save the agreement, violating U.S. sanctions. A failure to do the latter would prompt Tehran to return to high level uranium enrichment, the Iranian leader said.
“The path we have chosen today is not the path of war, it is the path of diplomacy,” Rouhani said in a televised speech. “But diplomacy with a new language and a new logic.”
Starting Wednesday, Iran will keep unspent enriched uranium instead of selling it, which it had been doing under the stipulations of the 2015 nuclear deal. This will help build its store of low enriched uranium and heavy water, which are used in nuclear reactors.
If Europe does not step up to save the deal and protect Iran’s oil and banking sectors from U.S. sanctions, Rouhani said, it will restart construction of its Arak nuclear reactor, which was capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium and had been shut down as part of the 2015 deal.
Iran’s level of uranium enrichment is said to be currently at just over 3%, as allowed under the nuclear deal for power generation. Enrichment needs to be at around 90% in order to build a bomb, from which Iran remains a long way away, experts say. But governments in the West fear Iran’s atomic program could allow it to eventually build nuclear weapons, something at international bodies like the International Atomic Energy Agency and the UN said was being effectively prevented by the 2015 deal.