Iran says it would not respect limits set down in nuclear pact but remains open to negotiations with European partners.

Iran said it will no longer abide by the enrichment limits in its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after its top general was killed in an air raid by the United States on Friday.

Sunday’s announcement means Iran is abandoning key provisions from the accord – negotiated between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and Germany – that prevent it from

having enough material to build an atomic weapon.

Iran insisted in a state television broadcast it remained open to negotiations with European partners, who so far have been unable to offer Tehran a way to sell its crude oil abroad despite US sanctions.

It also did not back off of earlier promises that it would not seek a nuclear weapon.

However, the announcement represents the clearest nuclear proliferation threat yet made by Iran since President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the accord in May 2018.

It also further raises regional tensions, as Iran’s longtime foe Israel has promised never to allow Iran to be able to produce an atomic bomb.

In response, the leaders of France, Germany and Britain urged Iran to abide by the agreement.

“We call on Iran to withdraw all measures that are not in line with the nuclear agreement,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a

joint statement.

Why abandoning nuclear deal limits

Iran’s announcement came after another Iranian official said it would consider taking even-harsher steps over the US killing of General Qassem Soleimani on Friday.

Iran’s state TV cited a statement by President Hassan Rouhani‘s administration saying the country would not observe limitations on its enrichment, the amount of stockpiled enriched uranium as well as research and

development in its nuclear activities.

“The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has in a statement announced its fifth and final step in reducing Iran’s commitments under the JCPOA,” a state TV broadcaster said, using an acronym for the deal.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran no longer faces any limitations in operations.”

It did not elaborate on what levels it would immediately reach in its programme.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations watchdog observing Iran’s programme, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

However, Iran said that its cooperation with the IAEA would “continue as before”.

Soleimani’s killing has escalated the crisis between Tehran and Washington after the months of threats that have put the wider Middle East on edge.

The dispute is rooted in Trump’s decision to pull out of Iran’s atomic accord and impose sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy.

Iran has promised “harsh revenge” for the US attack, which shocked Iranians across all political lines. Many saw Soleimani as a pillar of the country at a moment when it has been beset by US sanctions and recent

anti-government protests.

Read the original article on aljazeera