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Without effective responses from European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal, Tehran increases pressure on these EU nations.
Iranian officials are increasing pressure on Britain, France and Germany to force them, as the signatories of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), to find a solution to enable the country to sell its oil, after the United States withdrew from the deal and imposed harsh, new sanctions on the Persian country.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday he would take additional measures and expand nuclear research and development if the Eueropean Union nations are unable to provide a response by this weekend. According to sources familiar with the matter, the measures will be detailed in the coming days.
"Iran's third step is of an extraordinarily significant nature, and a decree will be announced today or tomorrow,” the president stated Sept. 4.
Shortly after Rouhani’s statement, the U.S. announced new sanctions, this time on a shipping network it said was run by Iran's Revolutionary Guard to allegedly smuggle oil.
The JCPOA deal was signed in 2015 and scapped several long-standing sanctions against Iran until U.S. President Donald Trump decided to pull out of the agreement and to impose even more extreme and illegal sanctions.
Iran has been sticking to agreed-upon amount and enrichment-level of its uranium production. However, the country has responsed to non-compliance of other signatories with measures of its own that still fall within the deal's boundaries. The country's government has also suggested since May that leaving the pact remains an option.
France proposed earlier this week to give Iran US$15 billion in credit until the end of the year on the condition Iran returns to completely implementing the agreement.
Brian Hook, the U.S. State Department coordinator on Iran, rejected the French proposition.
"We did sanctions today. There will be more sanctions coming. We can't make it any more clear that we are committed to this campaign of maximum pressure and we are not looking to grant any exceptions or waivers," said Hook.
Iran already refused the idea of a credit line, saying the only way it completely returns to JCPOA terms is when its oil exports are allowed to return to levels prior to the U.S. sanctions that block Iran from selling to China, Russia and the EU.
“Iran has repeatedly stated that it will return to the full implementation of the JCPOA only when it can freely sell its oil and fully access its oil revenues,” Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said.
“Europe has to either buy oil from Iran or provide Iran with the equivalent of selling oil as a credit line guaranteed by Iran’s oil revenues, which in some sense means a pre-sale of oil,” Araqchi quoted Rouhani as telling French President Emmanuel Macron in a recent conversation.
Trump announced his departure from the JCPOA in 2018, calling it the “worst deal ever.” He vowed to bring Iran through pressure and sanctions into renegotiating a new agreement. Since then, Trump’s administration has targetted the Persian country’s industry and oil in an attempt to paralyze its economy. It has also pressured Europeans from implementing a special payment channel that would protect European firms that trade with Iran from the sanctions.
Tired with the European hesitations, Iran started the first stage of its countermoves in May, the second stage was taken two months later. This Wednesday announcement seems the beginning of a third stage.