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  • Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference with Iraq's President Barham Salih at Salam Palace in Baghdad

    Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a news conference with Iraq's President Barham Salih at Salam Palace in Baghdad | Photo: Reuters

Published 8 May 2019

"We do not want to leave the agreement. All the people of the world should know that today is not the end of the JCPOA; it is a new step within the framework of the JCPOA," he said.

Iran will resume high level enrichment of uranium if world powers did not protect its interests against U.S. sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday (May 8), responding to the U.S. withdrawal from a nuclear deal a year ago.

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President Rouhani announced in a televised speech Wednesday that he was suspending two parts of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that Iran was adhering to.

Rouhani has written to the leaders of the European countries that agreed to the JCPOA deal, saying it will start rolling back some of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal on Wednesday, and will no longer sell enriched uranium and heavy water to other nations.

He then gave the European powers, Russia and China 60 days to meet their financial and oil commitments to the deal. If they did so, Iran would resume the sales.

If, however, those commitments were not met and the powers chose to follow US sanctions, he said Iran would begin higher enrichment of uranium, which is currently capped, and begin developing its Arak heavy water reactor based on plans made prior to the deal.

Rouhani warned of a firm response if Iran's nuclear case is referred again to the United Nations Security Council, but said Tehran was ready for negotiations over its nuclear program.

But the Iranian president said Iran was not pulling out of the deal.

"We do not want to leave the agreement. All the people of the world should know that today is not the end of the JCPOA; it is a new step within the framework of the JCPOA," he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal last year, and subsequently reimposed tough sanctions on Iran, including on its lifeblood oil exports with the stated intent of reducing them to zero and starving Iran's economy.

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