Iran to suspend some nuclear deal commitments following crippling US sanctions
Iran has decided to suspend some of its commitments under a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, abandoned by Washington last year, with major powers, the foreign ministry announced on Wednesday.
The ministry said that countries that are still party to the deal, namely the UK, China, France, Germany and Russia, were informed of the decision.
"The decision of the high security council to 'stop acting on some of the Islamic Republic of Iran's commitments under the JCPOA (nuclear deal)' was communicated to the heads of state of the countries," said the ministry.
Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi had reportedly handed the decision to the ambassadors of the five countries in a meeting on Wednesday.
The meeting came after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Iran of planning "imminent" attacks on a hastily organised visit to neighbouring Iraq on Tuesday.
Washington has also deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and several massive, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the Middle East as national security adviser John Bolton warned Washington would respond with "unrelenting force" to any attack by Tehran.
Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif dismissed the US military deployments and stressed that Iran's actions were not in breach of the nuclear deal it signed with major powers.
"The Islamic Republic has seen it suitable to stop acting on some of its commitments and measures it voluntarily undertook" under the nuclear deal, Zarif told state television from Moscow where he is on an official visit.
Emphasising that "Iran will not withdraw" from the deal, Zarif said "this right has been set for Iran in the JCPOA; we are not operating outside of the JCPOA but are in fact working in its framework".
He said the measures were in line with Sections 26 and 36 of the deal, which allow Iran to cease some or all of its commitments if the US or other parties fail to adhere to the agreement, including by reimposing sanctions.
Washington reimposed crippling unilateral sanctions last year after withrawing from the agreement, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May.
The objective of the deal was to prevent Iran working to develop nuclear weapons technology. Tehran agreed to the nuclear restrictions in return for a lifting of sanctions originally imposed by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama.
Nuclear inspectors have certified that Iran has stuck by the terms of the deal.
But Trump, surrounded by hawkish aides, has been progressively ratcheting up sanctions pressure on Iran, demanding it also rein in its conventional military missile programme and pull its forces and proxy fighters out of other Middle East countries.
Trump withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with world powers last year and reimposed crippling sanctions on Iran.
US officials have said they are aiming to choke off Iranian revenue so as to reduce the clerical regime's regional clout, notably its support for militants groups such as Lebanon's Hizballah.