President Rouhani dampens hope of Iran-US nuclear agreement

President Rouhani dampens hope of Iran-US nuclear agreement
President Rouhani has threatened to make further cuts to Iran's nuclear deal commitments.
3 min read
04 September, 2019
Iran could limit its nuclear ambitions in exchange for a credit line [Getty]

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Tehran will announce a new step in scaling back its nuclear commitments within two days.

"I don't think that... we will reach a deal so we'll take the third step and we will announce the details today or tomorrow," Rouhani was quoted as saying on the presidency website according to AFP.

The president's comments come despite a diplomatic push for relief from US sanctions, the latest of which were imposed on Iran's space agency on Tuesday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the sanctions on the space agency and two affiliated research centres, claiming that an explosion last week on a satellite launchpad was evidence of Iranian attempts to advance missile programmes.

The landmark Iran nuclear deal, inked in 2015, has been on the brink of collapse since last year, when President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the agreement.

Since then, Washington has pursued a policy of "maximum pressure" on Iran, re-introducing sanctions and ramping up US military presence in the Gulf as tensions have risen in recent months.

In a last ditch attempt to keep the nuclear deal alive, France said on Tuesday it could offer Iran a $15 billion lifeline if the US agrees.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the credit arrangement would see Iran receive $15 billion until the end of the year.

This would be in "exchange [for] a credit line guaranteed by oil in return for, one, a return to the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal) ...and two, security in the Gulf and the opening of negotiations on regional security and a post-2025 (nuclear programme)", Le Drian said, according to Reuters.

"All this (pre)supposes that President Trump issues waivers."

Iran has rejected talks with the US while sanctions remain in place.

European countries are attempting to keep the deal alive but are wary of crossing US sanctions.

But Iran has said it would be willing to comply with the 2015 nuclear deal in exchange for the credit lifeline or sell its oil.

"Iran... will return to full implementation of the JCPOA only if it is able to sell its oil and to fully benefit from the income from these sales," said Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi.

"The French proposal goes in that direction," he was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

"Returning to full implementation of the JCPOA is subject to receiving $15 billion over a period of four months, otherwise the process of Iran reducing its commitments will continue."

"I don't think the European countries will be able to take an effective step before Friday... so we will take the third step," he said.

Iran has increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to beyond the maximum set by the deal and announced it had exceeded a cap on the level of enrichment of its stocks.