Europeans reject 'ultimatums' from Iran as it eases nuclear curbs

US to counter Iran with military force deployment: Pentagon - Xinhua |

Anti-Iranian sanctions, including a ban on purchasing oil, were reinstated in November.

United States President Donald Trump has tightened the screws further on Iran with sanctions on its mining industry after a frustrated Tehran said it would suspend some promises it made under a nuclear deal rejected by Washington.

Meanwhile the European Union on Thursday urged Iran to respect the worldwide agreement curbing the Islamic Republic's nuclear ambitions, saying it aims to continue trading with the country despite USA sanctions.

"It is about two years that Iran has been coping with Trump and the extremist U.S. government, who believe in JCPOA as the worst agreement in U.S. history that has allowed Iran to expand its authority in the region, sell oil freely and fortify its economy under it".

Amid the heated rhetoric from Tehran and Washington, Macron urged the agreement's signatories not to "get caught up in any escalation" and to "jointly watch over our collective security".

The US military is tracking threats including possible missile attacks launched by small ships in the Persian Gulf, assaults by Iranian-trained Shiite militias in Iran, and strikes against US ships by Houthi rebels in Yemen, NBC News reported.

But President Hassan Rouhani said that unless the world powers which signed the deal protect Iran's economy from USA sanctions within 60 days, Iran would start enriching uranium beyond limits set in the agreement.

"We strongly urge Iran to continue to implement its commitments under the JCPOA in full as it has done until now and to refrain from any escalatory steps", they said in a joint statement, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Russia calls on all states to continue buying Iranian oil despite the U.S. announcement to end sanctions waivers for importers of Iranian oil, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

The EU's special trade channel, known as Instex, was proposed by Russian Federation as a barter system for Iranian oil in exchange for European goods, but it may not be operating before the end of June and its capability is limited.

"As a partner to Iran, those who use Instex have to be extremely vigilant that at the other end of the operation it doesn't benefit entities linked to the IRGC", the European diplomat said.

Donald Trump vows to raise China tariffs, sending markets tumbling
Mnuchin and Lighthizer offered no details of China's alleged backsliding, and there was no immediate response from Beijing. China wants them lifted; the USA wants to keep tariffs as leverage to pressure the Chinese to comply with any agreement.

Rouhani denounced European countries for seeing the U.S. as the world's "sheriff" and said their view kept them from making "firm decisions for their own national interests". More than a dozen reports have shown that Tehran is respecting it so far.

But in a shift in tone, Trump - who talked tough on North Korea before two landmark summits with leader Kim Jong Un - said he was willing to negotiate face-to-face.

Macron and Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel will discuss Iran with their European Union colleagues at Thursday's summit called originally to start the race for the top jobs in Brussels and sketch a future without Britain.

During the 2016 race, candidate Trump ran on an "America First" foreign policy and was often critical of the USA role as "policeman of the world", which makes a paradox out of his decision to put Bolton in such a high position.

"That's why France is staying in, and will stay in and I profoundly hope Iran will stay in", Macron said as he arrived for the summit.

"We aren't looking to hurt anybody", he told supporters. "They should call. If they do, we are open to talk to them. That's all we want".

Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, blamed Europe for not fulfilling its obligations under the terms of the original deal on Thursday.

Iran's Supreme National Security Council said it no longer considered itself bound by the agreed restrictions on stocks of enriched uranium and heavy water.

On the same day, Araghchi presented President Rouhani's letter on "reducing Iran's commitments to the nuclear deal" to the ambassadors of the remaining parties to the JCPOA.

The Iranian flag flutters in front the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters in Vienna, Austria March 4, 2019.

He added that Iran was simply seeking to "save face" after "striking a deal which was not respected by the other side".

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