U.S. President Donald Trump warned the Iranian regime that it is “playing with fire”. He said that Iran knows what it is doing and the White House vowed to continue applying maximum pressure on the regime until it puts an end to its belligerent behaviour. A White House statement said that the longstanding non-proliferation standard of no enrichment should be restored with regards to Iran.
The Iranian regime has defended its move, claiming that its current action is not violating the terms of the deal, rather it is responding to the United States’ abandonment of it.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have been increasing over the past few months with military retaliation by the United States being avoided by a hair after Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. drone.
European leaders are concerned that military conflict is imminent and have been trying to diffuse the situation. When Trump was considering pulling out of the deal last year, many European officials begged him to remain within the framework. They argued that the world is a safer place with the deal intact, but Trump begged to differ – explaining that the deal had the opposite effect.
Now the European signatories to the deal – France, Germany and the United Kingdom – are calling on the Iranian regime to stop violating the terms. However, they have still not issued sanctions or voided the agreement.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that Iran’s actions are extremely concerning and urged the regime to avoid further breaches of compliance. Germany has said that it is going to consider what its options are moving forward in conjunction with the other deal signatories.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also expressed his concern and a spokesperson for the UN said that the regime’s current course of action is not going to “help preserve the plan, nor secure the tangible economic benefits for the Iranian people”.
Iran is saying that it will reverse its actions “as soon as the E3 abide by their obligations” indicating that it expects the European countries to guarantee access to world trade as foreseen under the agreement.
It is very possible that Iran is testing the European powers that have already declared that they will treat matters seriously if Iran breached the nuclear agreement.
The Iranian regime has been backed into a corner, by its own doing, and it is fast running out of options. It is pinning most of its hopes on the Europeans to get them out of the tough financial system that it finds itself in. But faced with an endless string of belligerent acts in the past few weeks, the Europeans will have no choice but to take a tougher stance.