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Iranian nuclear official warns Europeans: We are 'losing patience'

Javad Zarif
The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization said on Tuesday he would warn the EU’s foreign policy chief that Tehran’s patience was “running out” over the bloc’s pledges to continue oil trade despite US sanctions.

Reuters quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, as saying that Tehran could resume enriching uranium to 20 percent purity if it fails to see the economic benefit of the 2015 deal that curbed its nuclear program.

In remarks to the news agency ahead of a meeting with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels, Salehi said: “If we cannot sell our oil and we don’t enjoy financial transactions, then I don’t think keeping the deal will benefit us anymore.”

He went on to say: “I will pass certainly a word of caution to her (Mogherini): I think the period of patience for our people is getting more limited and limited. We are running out of the assumed timeline, which was in terms of months.”

Following the meeting, Mogherini said she and Salehi would remain committed to maintaining the nuclear deal.

“They equally expressed their determination to preserve the nuclear agreement as a matter of respecting international agreements and a key pillar for European and regional security,” the European External Action Service said in a statement.

The statement, as reported by Reuters, said Mogherini also repeated the EU stance “on issues of concern such as Iran’s role in the region” – hinting at Iranian involvement in Middle East conflicts from Yemen to Syria.

Iran has limited its controversial enrichment program in line with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which was signed in 2015. But US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in May, because he said it did not halt Iran’s development of ballistic missiles or support for armed proxies abroad. The US Administration re-imposed sanctions on Iran’s oil export sector earlier this month.

However, Europe regards the nuclear agreement as an important factor of international security. The EU, along with Russia and China, is struggling to maintain trade incentives for Iran to respect the nuclear restrictions of the deal under US pressure.