US says Iran has broken nuclear deal

The US has accused Iran of breaking its commitments under the 2015 JCPOA nuclear agreement by working on advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment.

The US Ambassador to the Vienna Office of the UN and Representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Jackie Wolcott, said in her statement to the quarterly meeting of the nuclear watchdog’s 35-nation Board of Governors: “Attempting to generate negotiating leverage 1 kg of uranium at a time will not bring sanctions relief. Iran has claimed that it continues to comply with the JCPOA, but it is now reported to be in clear violation of the deal. This should be of great concern to all of us.”

She added: “The US calls on Iran to return to compliance without delay. We understand the JCPOA Joint Commission is treating this issue with the seriousness it deserves, and we urge the JCPOA participants to address this issue as soon as possible.’

Under the nuclear agreement, Iran is allowed to operate only 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges for the first 10 years, and may conduct research with uranium on a single IR-4, IR-5, IR-6 and IR-8 centrifuge for the first 8.5 years. Wolcott repeated that the Trump administration remains open to talks with Iran to resolve the standoff between Washington and Tehran following the former’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear agreement last year.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused the US of launching economic warfare against the Islamic Republic. During a news conference with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas yesterday, Zarif said: “The only solution for reducing tensions in this region is stopping economic war. Whoever starts a war with us will not be the one who finishes it.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will visit Tehran today. Japan’s chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said US President Donald Trump spoke with Abe yesterday, but declined to elaborate about what was discussed.

Suga confirmed that Abe had also spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He added: “Taking into account the current status of rising tension in the Middle East, we hope to ease tensions through leader-level talks with Iran, a regional powerhouse.”

Iran has released US permanent resident Nizar Zakka, a Lebanese-born internet advocate imprisoned for four years in Tehran. The US State Department praised his release, expressing “hope” that it could be a positive sign for other American detainees in Iran.