Ball in Europe’s Court on Nuclear Deal’s Future – Iranian State TV

The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, Argentina President Mauricio Macri and the European Union Leaders Holding a News Conference, G20 Japan. Reuters

DUBAI, June 29 (Reuters) – It is up to Europe to shield Iran from U.S. sanctions and prevent it from further scaling back its compliance with its 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers, Iranian state TV said on Saturday, with only days left on Tehran’s ultimatum.

Iran‘s envoy to a meeting of the remaining signatories to the nuclear accord said on Friday that European countries had offered too little at last-ditch talks to persuade Tehran to drop its plan to breach limits imposed by the deal.

The United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and has re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

Tehran then stopped complying on May 8 with some of its commitments under the nuclear deal. It said it would suspend further obligations after another 60 days, meaning in early July.

“The ball is in Europe’s court. Are Paris, London and Berlin going to again waste a chance under the influence of (U.S. President Donald) Trump, or use the remaining opportunity to fulfill their promises and act on their commitments under the (nuclear deal)?,” Iranian state TV said in a commentary.

Iran will soon exceed an enriched uranium limit set under its nuclear deal after its remaining pact partners fell short of Tehran’s demands to be shielded from U.S. sanctions, the semi-official Fars news agency on Saturday cited an “informed source” as saying.

“As the commission meeting in Vienna could not satisfy Iran‘s just demands … Iran is determined to cut it commitments to the deal, and the 300 kg enriched uranium limit will be soon breached,” Fars quoted the source as telling the daily Khorasan.

On June 17, Iran said it would break through the limit on the size of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium in 10 days.

Iran has repeatedly criticised delays in European countries setting up a trading mechanism that aims to circumvent U.S. economic sanctions.

On Friday, Britain, France and Germany said the trade channel, INSTEX, was finally up and running.

Meanwhile, the United States deployed F-22 stealth fighters to the Gulf state of Qatar, as tensions mounted after Iran shot down a U.S. drone. Tehran said the unmanned U.S. aircraft was in its air space, which Washington denied.

“These aircraft (F-22 Raptors) are deployed to Qatar for the first time in order to defend American forces and interests,” the U.S. Air Force said on its regional website.

Iran‘s army chief said any attack was unlikely because of the country’s strong military capability.

“We are ready (even) for night-time attacks, and the enemy is closely monitored, but our intelligence does not point to war,” General Abdolrahim Mousavi was quoted as saying by Fars.

Separately, the Iranian foreign minister said Iran would resist any U.S. sanctions, just as it persevered during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war when the forces of then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein launched chemical attacks, including on an Iranian town.

“We persevered then, and will now,” Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted on the anniversary of the 1987 chemical bombing of the border town of Sardasht, which killed at least 130 people, mostly civilians, and injured thousands.

“We’ll never forget that the Western world supported & armed Saddam … Security Council never condemned his gassing of our people,” Zarif wrote.

(Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Hugh Lawson)