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Iran rejects Trump's call for changes to nuclear deal

Iranian foreign ministry says it will not accept any changes to nuclear deal after Trump's latest threat to withdraw.

Mohammad Javad Zarif

Iran has said it will not accept any changes to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, after US President Donald Trump threatened to pull out of the agreement unless its "terrible flaws" are fixed.

The Islamic Republic's foreign ministry said in a statement that it would not "move beyond its commitments" to the existing agreement, to which Trump has extended the US commitment for another 120 days, Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) reported on Saturday.

"Iran strongly announces that it will make no measure beyond its Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) commitments and will make no changes in the nuclear deal neither now nor in the future," the statement said.

The nuclear deal, formally known as the JCPOA, has eased sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran halting uranium enrichment. It was agreed upon by the United States under the administration of former President Barack Obama, Iran and five other countries in July 2015.

Trump announced on Friday that the US would keep the pact in place and waive sanctions against Iran for the "last time", in order to secure agreement from the US' European allies to fix its "terrible flaws".

"Despite my strong inclination, I have not yet withdrawn the United States from the Iran nuclear deal," he said in a statement.

"Instead I have outlined two possible paths forward: either fix the deal's disastrous flaws, or the United States will withdraw," he added. "This is the last chance. In absence of such an agreement [between the US and European powers], the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal."

'Critical components'

Trump said four "critical components" must now be worked into the agreement: immediate inspections at all sites requested by international inspectors, measures to ensure Iran "never even comes close to possessing a nuclear weapon", no policy "expiration date", and no distinction between the Islamic Republic's long-range missile and nuclear weapons programmes regarding the imposition of sanctions.

The US president is required to renew the existing deal every 120 days under American law. 

Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, condemned Washington's comments as "extremely negative", the Kremlin-backed Russian Information Agency (RIA) news agency reported on Saturday.

Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, accused Trump of "desperate attempts to undermine a solid multilateral agreement", tweeting on Friday: "JCPOA is not renegotiable: rather than repeating tired rhetoric, US must bring itself into full compliance - just like Iran."

European leaders had urged "all parties to continue to fully implement this agreement" ahead of Trump's announcement.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union's foreign policy chief, said earlier this week that the "deal is working; it is delivering on its main goal, which means keeping the Iranian nuclear programme in check and under close surveillance".


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