Iran threatened Monday to revert its nuclear development program to pre-2015 levels before it agreed to restraints under an international accord if the European countries and the United States that were signatories to the deal fail to help its economy.
"If the Europeans and the Americans don't want to carry out their duties... we will decrease our commitments and... reverse the conditions to four years ago," the Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted atomic agency spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi as saying.
"These actions are not out of obstinacy," Kamalvandi said. "It is to give diplomacy a chance so that the other side [can] come to their senses and carry out their duties."
The international pact called for sanctions relief for Tehran as it agreed to curbs on its nuclear program. But U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from it in May 2018 and reimposed tough punitive measures against the Islamic republic that have hobbled its economy and cut its international oil exports. Tehran has contended that Europe has not done enough to help it overcome the effects of the U.S. sanctions.
In the last month, Iran has exceeded the size of the uranium stockpile and the uranium enrichment level permitted under the pact. The deal also was signed by Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, China and Russia, all of which have remained in the pact even as they have criticized Iran for deviating from its provisions.
Iran's foreign ministry said it would stay committed to the accord at the same level as the other signatories stay committed to it.
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the deal "isn't dead yet," and that while the opportunity to find a resolution to the current crisis surrounding the agreement is closing, it is still possible to keep it alive.
He spoke ahead of talks with other European Union foreign ministers in Brussels where they planned to discuss the Iran situation.
Iran has long said its nuclear program was solely for peaceful purposes, and it won badly needed relief from sanctions in return for limiting its nuclear activity far below what would be needed to make a weapon.
Hunt said Monday that Iran was more than a year away from having the capability to build a nuclear device.
Hunt's comments came a day after the publication of cables from former British ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch, who was critical of Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal, saying he did it as a snub to his predecessor, former President Barack Obama.
In a May 2018 cable, Darroch wrote that the Trump administration, in abrogating the Iran deal last year, "is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons -- it was Obama's deal."
The Mail on Sunday published Darroch's message back to London, days after he resigned and a week after the newspaper published other leaked cables. In the earlier memos, the diplomat described the U.S. leader as "inept," "insecure" and "incompetent" and his administration as "uniquely dysfunctional."
Darroch resigned from his post Wednesday, saying his three-year posting in Washington had become untenable with the disclosure of his cables.
The leaked cables were meant to be seen only by senior British ministers and civil servants. British officials launched an investigation of the leaks but did not deny the accuracy of Darroch's comments, expressing the opinion that the person likely responsible for the leak was someone inside the British government, not a foreign power.
The Sunday Times reported that investigators have identified a civil servant as the individual who leaked the cables.
Boris Johnson, a Conservative favorite to succeed Theresa May when she steps down as prime minister later this month, seemed to dismiss the importance of the leaked cables.
He described them as "embarrassing but it is not a threat to national security."
"It is the duty of media organizations to bring new and interesting facts into the public domain," said Johnson, himself a journalist and former editor.
In May 2018, Johnson, then Britain's foreign minister, went to Washington to try to persuade Trump to not abandon the Iran pact.
After British and U.S. officials met, Darroch reported back to London that there were divisions within the Trump administration over Trump's intention to quit the Iran accord. The diplomat criticized the White House for a lack of long-term strategy to deal with Iran.
"They can't articulate any 'day-after' strategy; and contacts with State Department this morning suggest no sort of plan for reaching out to partners and allies, whether in Europe or the region," he wrote.
Trump has long attacked the 2015 international Iran nuclear deal aimed at restraining Tehran's nuclear weapons development as ineffective and repeatedly blamed Obama and former Secretary of State John Kerry for pushing for its adoption.