Iran defended its decision to use faster centrifuges prohibited by its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, officials said Sunday, while underscoring that time was running out for Europe to save the unraveling accord.
Iran already has crept past limits the deal imposed on nuclear enrichment and its uranium stockpile. It is trying to pressure Europe to find a way to sell crude oil abroad despite U.S. sanctions.
Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed Iran’s announcement the day before that it would use advanced centrifuges was still within the “framework” of the 2015 nuclear deal, while meeting with the visiting acting chief of the U.N. atomic watchdog Cornel Feruta.
According to the semi-official Fars news agency Zarif promised continued cooperation with the agency while warning the U.N. watchdog to carry out its task in an “impartial” way.
Earlier on Sunday, the head of Iran’s nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, said the European Union has so far failed to carry out its commitments under the 2015 deal, which promised relief from trade sanctions in return for curbing the country’s nuclear program.
The U.S. pulled out of the deal over a year ago, raising tensions.
Salehi said the EU “was supposed to fill the vacuum” in enforcing the deal, but “unfortunately they could not.” He said compliance with the deal is not a “one-way road.”
France, which has led efforts to find a way around U.S. sanctions, including offering Iran a multibillion dollar credit line, appeared still committed to keeping Iran within the deal.
Speaking on Europe 1 radio on Sunday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Iran’s “disengagement” from the deal’s terms was causing tensions, but added “the channels of dialogue remain open.”