Sunday 25 August 2019

Any attack on US or its allies by Iran will be met with force, warns official

Sanctions: An employee at the Iran Alloy Steel Company plant in Yazd - Donald Trump has placed sanctions on Iranian steel. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Sanctions: An employee at the Iran Alloy Steel Company plant in Yazd - Donald Trump has placed sanctions on Iranian steel. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Madeline Chambers

Any Iranian attack against the United States or allies will be met with force, the US special representative for Iran said.

The United States does not want war with Iran but will continue putting maximum pressure on the Islamic Republic until it changes its behaviour, Bryan Hook told reporters in a phone call.

He mentioned Iran's foreign policy as an area that could be changed, without citing specifics, and said Iran's reduction of some commitments under its 2015 nuclear deal was against international norms.

Iran said on Wednesday it had started scaling-back some commitments under the nuclear pact and threatened to do more if world powers did not protect it from US sanctions, a year after Washington pulled out of the deal.

Meanwhile, European countries said they wanted to preserve Iran's nuclear deal and rejected "ultimatums" from Tehran, after Iran scaled back curbs on its nuclear programme and threatened moves that might breach the pact.

Tehran's initial moves do not appear to violate the accord yet, but President Hassan Rouhani said that unless world powers protect Iran's economy from US sanctions within 60 days, Iran would start enriching uranium beyond permitted limits.

"We reject any ultimatums and we will assess Iran's compliance on the basis of Iran's performance regarding its nuclear-related commitments..." read a statement issued jointly by the European Union and the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany. "We are determined to continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran," said the European states, adding that included getting a special purpose vehicle aimed at enabling business with Iran off the ground.

The 2015 nuclear deal requires Iran to curb its nuclear programme in return for the elimination of international sanctions. It was signed by the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the EU. The Europeans insist the pact is an important pillar of regional and global security and was never meant to address the other issues.

Mr Rouhani said in a televised address on Wednesday that signatories to the deal have 60 days to come up with a plan to shield his country - already labouring under economic hardship - from the sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump.

The EU powers say they "regret the reimposition of sanctions" by the US and remain "determined to continue pursuing efforts to enable the continuation of legitimate trade with Iran".

The Europeans have set up a complicated barter-type system to skirt direct financial transactions with Iran.

Irish Independent

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