By Sara Mazloumsaki, James Frater and Jack Guy, CNN
Thursday January 16, 2020
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that Iran could abandon its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers within hours if the U.S. keeps imposing new sanctions. PHOTO: ATTA KENARE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
Iran is enriching more uranium per day now than before the country signed a nuclear deal with major world powers, President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday.
Rouhani also said the country's nuclear industry was better off today during his address at the 59th Iranian Central Bank General Assembly in Tehran that was broadcast live on Iranian state television.But the deal began to unravel when the US walked away from it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran. Tehran has responded in recent months by pulling back from some of its commitments under the pact.
"Our daily enrichment is today more than before signing the (JCPOA) agreement," Rouhani said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the official name of the 2015 nuclear deal. Rouhani offered no specifics on how much more uranium is now being enriched.
Signed by Iran and the US, France, Russia, China and Germany -- a group known as the P5+1 -- after two years of intense negotiations, the deal was intended to limit Iran's civilian nuclear program and prevent it from developing nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief.
Earlier this week, the so-called E3 countries -- Germany, France and the UK -- triggered a dispute mechanism in the deal, citing Iran's breaches of some of the limits in the agreement.
Rouhani on Thursday accused the P5+1 countries of backing away from the deal, and said Iran had acted accordingly.
"We didn't sit around, when they (P5+1) reduced their commitment (to JCPOA), we also reduced our commitment," Rouhani said.
"I'd like to say the current situation is not an easy one, but we are aware that world security, world politics and the world economy are closely connected," he added.
Since pulling out of the deal in 2018, the Trump administration has introduced a "maximum pressure" campaign of harsh sanctions, but the European Union has called for the deal to be upheld.
EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New Delhi on Thursday to call for its preservation.
Zarif accused Germany, France and the UK of "selling out" the Iran deal after the Washington Post reported that the Trump administration had threatened to slap tariffs on the European nations if they didn't formally accuse Iran of violating the pact by invoking the dispute mechanism.
"E3 sold out remnants of #JCPOA to avoid new Trump tariffs," Zarif tweeted Thursday with a screenshot of the article.
CNN has not confirmed that the Trump administration made such threats, and the US ambassador to Germany strongly rejected it. CNN is seeking a response from the UK, France and Germany on the claims.
Despite invoking the dispute mechanism in the deal, the foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK said earlier this week that they remain committed the pact.
CNN's Ivana Kottasová, Stephanie Halasz and Jennifer Z. Deaton contributed to this report.