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With world leaders heading to Japan and an OPEC meeting next week the WSJ reports Iran warned Thursday that if the 2015 nuclear agreement unravels, it would follow North Korea and quit a treaty aimed at stopping the spread of nuclear weapons.

Iran Nuclear Sites

Iran has continued in a confrontational mood with the US and Europe since Iran shot down an American drone and the US responded by putting more sanctions on, including on their Spitual Leader. The threat came from an Iranian official to reporters.

Significantly the WSJ reports it marked the first time Tehran has explicitly used its participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, as leverage in its talks with European officials over keeping its commitments in the separate 2015 deal. Iran ratified the NPT in 1970, committing not to develop or allow the spread of nuclear weapons and to basic international inspections of its nuclear program. By leaving the NPT Iran could end international monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program and almost certainly get a sharp international response. They are clearly of the belief then can devide the US and the European nations.

The WSJ reports:

The warning has already been issued to the remaining signatories to the deal: France Britain, Germany, Russia and China, the official said. The Iranian official said Iran was learning from North Korea, which ignored complaints from the West, pulled out of the NPT in the early 2000s and built a small arsenal of nuclear weapons.

A total of 191 states have joined the NPT, including five with nuclear weapons.

“Some say in Iran,” the official said, “that you are naive, please learn the lessons from North Koreans. You decided to engage, you decided to negotiate…and this is the result: sanctions are back even worse than before.”

The remarks represented the next level of brinkmanship between Iran, the U.S. and Europe over its nuclear program. The 2015 nuclear deal put strict but temporary limits on Iran’s nuclear program, promising it relief from sanctions and an economic boost. The Trump administration pulled out of that deal and imposed sanctions that have crippled the country’s oil industry and sent its economy into a tailspin. Iran says it has never sought nuclear weapons, but the U.N. atomic agency says Tehran conducted a weapons program in the past.

The U.S. has warned Iran against revving up its nuclear program, with President Trump saying Iran can never have a nuclear weapon. He wants Tehran to come back to the negotiating table and sign up to a stricter, broader agreement on its nuclear, missile and regional activities.

Europe has also cautioned Tehran against violating the nuclear deal and vowed it would find a way to make the economic benefits of the deal for Iran tangible. Senior officials from the European Union, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China will meet with their Iranian counterparts in the Austrian capital on Friday to discuss the challenges facing the nuclear deal.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said this week that France, Britain and Germany were ready to deploy a new way to carry out trade with Iran.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the mechanism, known as Instex, will be equipped with a credit line in a bid to speed up the first transactions. A full unraveling of the nuclear deal is unlikely to happen for months, with Iran taking only gradual steps to disregard its commitments and European officials indicating they won’t offer rushed responses to Iran’s steps.

Both sides insist they want to save the deal. Iranian officials have in the past raised withdrawal from the NPT as an option, a threat some Western diplomats saw as a bluff.

Iran made the threat anew as it quickly stockpiles enriched uranium and on Thursday was just three kilograms beneath a 300-kilogram cap agreed upon in the nuclear deal. European diplomats said the limit could be exceeded over the weekend.

Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, said in a tweet Thursday that “sanctions aren’t alternative to war; they ARE war.”

 “It’s extortion,” said Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran, in Paris for talks with French, U.K. and German officials. The U.S. hasn’t imposed sanctions on European efforts to establish the special mechanism for trade between Iran and the West because “the vehicle doesn’t exist,” he added.

“Iran has rejected diplomacy too many times,” Mr. Hook said.

However, Iranian officials have said they wouldn’t rule out talks with Washington if the Trump administration steps back from its maximum pressure campaign. The Iranian official said Thursday that if the sanctions on Iran’s oil exports were significantly eased, that could be a basis for some talks. “The U.S. wants negotiation but nobody negotiates in the middle of war,” the official said. “There should be a cease-fire before we negotiate

Source WSJ

From The TradersCommunity News Desk

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