US urges world powers to reject Iran's 'nuclear extortion'

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani heads a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, July 10, 2019. Rouhani said Wednesday Britain will face “repercussions” over the seizure of an Iranian supertanker.

VIENNA — The United States admonished world powers seeking to preserve a deal with Iran on its atomic program on Wednesday not to give in to “nuclear extortion” from Tehran, which has breached the pact’s limitations in recent days in an attempt to get them to provide economic incentives to offset American sanctions.

The U.S. requested the special board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency after Iran announced last week that it had exceeded the amount of low-enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile under limitations set in the 2015 nuclear deal. Since then, it also announced it has started enriching uranium past the 3.67% purity allowed, to 4.5%, and IAEA inspectors verified both developments.

By doing so, Tehran hopes to increase the pressure on the remaining members of the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, to provide economic relief for American sanctions. It has set an early September deadline until it pushes limits further.

Jackie Wolcott, the U.S. ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, told Iran and others in the room that Washington was open to “negotiation without preconditions” on a new nuclear deal, and that “the only path to sanctions relief is through such negotiations, not nuclear extortion.”

“We are committed to denying Iran the benefits it seeks from these most recent provocations,” she said. “It is imperative that this misbehavior not be rewarded, for if it is, Iran’s demands and provocations will only escalate.”

U.S. President Donald Trump underscored the comments later, tweeting that the nuclear deal was “terrible” and threatened that “sanctions will soon be increased, substantially!” Trump has long rejected the deal, saying it was too generous to Tehran and did not address its involvement in regional conflicts.

Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov fired back at the meeting that the U.S. could not both reject the deal and call for Iran’s full implementation of it.

“Although for some reason they only refer to Tehran, in fact the United States, who are refusing to fulfill its own obligations under the nuclear deal, lost any right to demand this from others,” he said.

Iran’s representative, Kazem Gharib Abadi, stressed Iran’s nuclear program was for “peaceful purposes” and said his country was prepared to resume full implementation of the JCPOA, “commensurate with the implementation of the commitments by all participants.”