Iran said on Monday that it could quit the global nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if European countries refer it to the UN Security Council over a nuclear agreement, a move that would overturn diplomacy in its confrontation with the West.

Britain, France and Germany declared Iran in violation of the 2015 pact last week and have launched a dispute mechanism that could eventually see the matter referred back to the Security Council and the reimposition of UN sanctions.

“If the Europeans continue their improper behaviour or send Iran’s file to the Security Council, we will withdraw from the NPT,” Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said, according to comments carried by IRNA and other Iranian news agencies.

He also said Iran could take other steps before withdrawing from the NPT, although he did not specify them.

The 190-member NPT bans signatories other than the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France from acquiring nuclear weapons, in return for allowing them to pursue peaceful nuclear programmes for power generation, overseen by the United Nations.

“The European powers’ claims about Iran violating the deal are unfounded,” Mousavi said. “Whether Iran will further decrease its nuclear commitments will depend on other parties and whether Iran’s interests are secured under the deal.”

On January 16, President Rouhani dismissed a proposal for new “Trump deal” aimed at resolving a nuclear row, saying it was a “strange” offer and criticising US President Donald Trump for always breaking promises.

Rouhani said Iran could reverse steps that exceeded restrictions in the agreement as soon as sanctions are lifted.

Earlier in the month, President Trump had ordered the death of Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps considered a hero in the country, in order to “stop a war,” not start one.

Iran had termed the US action of “international terrorism” as “extremely dangerous and a foolish escalation”.

General Qasem Soleimani was among the eight people killed in a rocket attack by the US on Baghdad international airport.

On January 7, Trump said that Iran will not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Rouhani repeated Iran’s longstanding position that peace can come to the Middle East only when the United States withdraws from the region.

“American soldiers today are not secure in the region … We don’t want there to be insecurity in the world. We want you to go from here, but not with war. We want you to leave the region intelligently and it’s to your benefit.”