The United States on Wednesday said that it was ending waivers in its sanctions for nations that remain in the Iran nuclear accord, bringing the deal further to the verge of collapse.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he was responding to Iran’s “brinkmanship” of nuclear steps, which have been aimed at pressuring the United States to remove sanctions as called for by the 2015 accord.
Pompeo said in a statement, “These escalatory actions are unacceptable and I cannot justify renewing the waiver”.
President Donald Trump bolted from the agreement negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama, under which Iran had drastically curbed its nuclear activities.
Pompeo further added that the United States was issuing a final 60-day waiver to allow companies involved in the projects to wrap up their operations.
However, the US did not move to stop international support for Bushehr, oil-rich Iran’s only nuclear power plant, where Russia has been supplying fuel.
Pompeo said the United States was providing a 90-day waiver extension on Bushehr to “ensure safety of operations” but reserved the right to modify it at will.
In justifying the moves, Pompeo also pointed to recent comments by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said it was an “Islamic duty” to fight for the “liberation of Palestine” and denounced supporters of Israel.
In response to Khamenei, Pompeo accused him of invoking the Holocaust, saying: “The regime’s vile rhetoric only strengthens the international community’s resolve to counter its threats.”
UK, France and Germany — along with Russia and China — still support the nuclear accord, saying that it was working by reducing Iran’s nuclear activities.
Last month, the US had renewed sanctions waivers on Iran that allowed foreign companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear facilities to keep Tehran from developing nuclear weapons.
In January, US government announced that it imposed sanctions on the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and it’s head while renewing waivers allowing foreign companies to continue work at Iranian nuclear sites.
Last year, the US imposed fresh sanctions on Iran, including an airline and the country’s shipping industry.
Tehran and Washington have been at loggerheads since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal and began reimposing crippling sanctions.