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Iran threatens to abandon nuclear deal if US withdraws from it

Mohammad Javad Zarif hopes his European counterparts will pressure Trump to stick with the nuclear agreement
Trump is expected to announce next month whether he believes Iran has adhered to its terms (AFP)

Iran has threatened to abandon the nuclear deal if the United States decides to withdraw from it, as tensions escalate further between the two countries.

The latest warning comes as US President Donald Trump continues to ramp up his rhetoric against the historic deal signed under the previous administration which limits Iran's nuclear activity. 

Trump is expected to announce next month whether he believes Iran has adhered to its terms.

If he believes that Tehran has undermined the deal then the US Congress will begin the process of reimposing fresh sanctions on Iran. 

"If Washington decides to pull out of the deal, Iran has the option of withdrawal and other options," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said during an interview with Al Jazeera in New York.

"Washington will be in a better position if it remains committed to the deal." 

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Despite fears of the nuclear deal collapsing, Zarif said he hopes his European counterparts will pressure the Trump administration to withdraw from it and impose fresh sanctions on Iran. 

He also told the Financial Times and the Guardian that if the deal collapses then his country will not have to adhere to the limitations on Uranian enrichment, centrifuge numbers and production of plutonium.

But Zarif stressed that Iran would only use the technology for peaceful purposes. 

"My assumption and guess is that he [Trump] will not certify and then will allow Congress to take the decision," Zarif said during the interview at the Iranian UN mission's residence in New York.

"The deal allowed Iran to continue its research and development. So we have improved our technological base. If we decide to walk away from the deal we would be walking away with better technology."

France, Germany and the UK, which along with Russia and China signed the deal, have recently defended it. 

Under the nuclear agreement, Iran surrendered much of its enriched uranium, dismantled a reactor and submitted nuclear sites to UN inspection, while Washington and Europe lifted some sanctions.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told the UN General Assembly earlier that the UN Security Council endorsed the nuclear deal and "one or two countries" could not decide its fate.

Trump in his speech a day earlier called the nuclear deal "an embarrassment" for the United States and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later confirmed that the agreement must be "revisited".

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