Iran Lashes out at E.U.: Calls Threat to Leave Nuclear Deal ‘Illegal’

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, from left, wait for the start of prior to a bilateral meeting as part of the closed-door nuclear talks with Iran at a hotel in Vienna, Austria, Friday, July 6, 2018. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)
AP/Ronald Zak

A European Union warning it would withdraw from the Obama-negotiated 2015 nuclear deal if Iran continues to drift away from the agreement has been branded “illegal” by Tehran.

The statement by Abbas Mousavi, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesman, was made on Monday in reaction to the E.U. privately cautioning Iran it would withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) if Iran takes a fourth step away from the deal.

The move could trigger a dispute mechanism and the possibility of a worldwide sanctions snap-back, with the case being sent back to the U.N. Security Council, according to local news outlet Radio Farda.

Iran said it would take a fourth action away from the program if Europe doesn’t take steps to protect Iran from U.S. sanctions. The Trump administration has refused to remove sanctions before talks with Iran.

From the time Tehran agreed to the nuclear deal, Mousavi argued, “Iran has been allowed to take retaliatory measures under Articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA in case the other parties contravene the JCPOA.”

Furthermore, Mousavi continued, “It would be a ridiculous and wrong measure for them (Europeans) to retaliate in response to our retaliatory measures, and we advise them not to do so.”

“(Snap-back sanctions are) dead and from the legal standpoint, there is no possibility of Europe using the snap-back mechanism,” Mousavi said.

The U.S., France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany originally negotiated the JCPOA in 2015 under the Obama administration.

President Donald Trump has been a long critic of the deal, claiming that it was not comprehensive enough and only delayed Iran from making a nuclear weapon.

From the very beginning of Trump’s presidential campaign in 2015, the candidate called the deal an “outrage” and the product of “gross incompetence” on the part of the Obama administration.

In February 2016, Trump ranked ending the Iran deal as his “number one priority” in a speech to the American-Israeli Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The U.S. ended the agreement in May last year.

UPI contributed to this report

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