Iran 'will breach nuclear deal'
Risk of war with US rises as Europe attempts to keep the peace
The confrontation between Iran and the United States is expected to escalate today after Tehran warned it was ready to violate its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal for the first time.
Iran has said it will accumulate enough low-enriched uranium to breach the 300 kilogram limit set out in the 2015 nuclear deal unless European countries find a way to help it sidestep US sanctions. It expects to reach that level today.
The deadline comes after the leaders of both countries promised they would not back down in a confrontation that has led them to the brink of war.
US President Donald Trump yesterday outlined his plans for a potential military strike on the Islamic republic, saying any conflict would be short-lived and would not involve ground troops.
Asked if a war was brewing, he said in a Fox television interview: "I hope we don't, but we're in a very strong position if something should happen.
"I'm not talking boots on the ground... I'm just saying if something would happen, it wouldn't last very long."
Hours earlier, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's Supreme Leader, said his country would not bow to US pressure.
In his first public comments since sanctions were imposed on him by Mr Trump, Ayatollah Khamenei (below) said Iran "would not give up".
"The graceful Iranian nation has been accused and insulted by the world's most vicious regime, the US, which is a source of wars, conflicts and plunder. The Iranian nation won't give up over such insults," he said in a speech to a crowd in Tehran.
Ayatollah Khamenei, who is Iran's head of state and wields ultimate control over defence and foreign policy, was placed under US treasury sanctions on Monday.
Last year, Mr Trump pulled the US out of an agreement with Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, and the EU that offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for limiting its nuclear programme.
He has imposed punishing sanctions in a bid to force Iran to accept a more restrictive deal.
Iran has responded by threatening to abandon some of its own obligations under the agreement unless European signatories find a way to help it access the economic benefits it was promised.
The diplomatic crisis lurched towards war last week after the US and UK blamed Iran for attacking oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and Iran shot down a US surveillance drone.
Britain, France and Germany are expected to announce tomorrow the launch of a financial mechanism designed to help European firms trade with Iran without facing United States' sanctions.
The financial vehicle, known as INSTEX, has been in preparation for nearly six months. It is unclear if making it operational will be enough to persuade Iran not to breach its nuclear deal commitments.
The remaining signatories of the nuclear deal will also meet in Vienna tomorrow to discuss the implications of an Iranian violation of its obligations.
Barhim Salih, the president of Iraq, yesterday warned both the US and its allies, as well as Iran, that Iraq would not allow its territory to be used to attack the other side.
"We are asking everybody to cool it down," Mr Salih said in a speech in London. "Enough is enough. We cannot afford another war." (© Daily Telegraph, London)