Saturday October 31st, 2020 4:13AM

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

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

VIENNA (AP) — 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."

At the same time he slammed the U.S. decision to withdrawal from the deal and reinstate sanctions, saying it was "neither legitimate nor legal" and should not be accepted by the international community.

"Due to costly and predictable consequences of sanctions, they should be seen as weapons of warfare and means of aggression," he said. "Economic sanctions are, in fact, collective punishment of the ordinary people, contrary to the objectives and purposes of human rights, and should be considered as crimes against humanity."

Since Trump withdrew from the nuclear accord, the restoration of heavy sanctions on Iran, including its oil industry, has exacerbated an economic crisis that has sent the currency plummeting.

Tension between Iran and the U.S. have been on the rise. The U.S. has sent thousands of troops, an aircraft carrier, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets to the Middle East, and fears are growing of a wider conflict after mysterious oil tanker attacks near the Strait of Hormuz blamed on Iran, attacks by Iranian-backed rebels in Yemen on Saudi Arabia, and Iran's downing of a U.S. military drone.

So far, the remaining parties to the nuclear deal — Russia, China, Germany, France, Britain and the European Union — have been unable to meet Tehran's demands for enough economic assistance to offset the American sanctions.

Iran maintains it is justified in breaching the limitations because the U.S. already broke the deal with its unilateral withdrawal last year, and Ulyanov said its recent steps "are not a source of enthusiasm, but we treat them with understanding."

In its statement to the IAEA board, the European Union urged Iran to return to compliance but also added it "deeply regrets the U.S. withdrawal and calls on all countries to refrain from taking any actions that impede the implementation of the JCPOA commitments."

On the European side, French President Emmanuel Macron has taken a lead role in trying to save the deal, speaking Saturday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and separately Monday with Trump.

On Wednesday, his top diplomatic adviser, Emmanuel Bonne, met in Tehran Iran's senior security official, Ali Shamkhani, a powerful figure in the Iranian hierarchy.

Despite the overture, however, Shamkhani said Iran will not reverse its decision to increase uranium enrichment beyond the limits set by the accord until it achieves its "full rights" under the deal.

Iran's official IRNA news agency reported that Shamkhani told Bonne the decision to increase enrichment is an "unchangeable strategy" and criticized European countries for their "lack of will" in providing relief from U.S. sanctions.

Rouhani, however, after meeting with Bonne said "Iran has fully left the path open for diplomacy and negotiation."

Rouhani told Bonne Iran seeks "full implementation" of commitments from all parties to the agreement, and "if signatories to the deal implement their commitments, Iran also will take new steps," according to Rouhani's website.

The dispute over the nuclear deal comes amid rising tension between the U.S. and Iran in the Middle East.

In May, the United States dispatched a carrier group, bombers and fighter jets to the Persian Gulf region in response to alleged Iranian threats. The U.S. has accused Iran of involvement in the bombing of oil tankers in the Gulf and says it shot down an American drone in international airspace. Iran denies any involvement in the attacks on the tankers and says the drone had veered into its airspace.

Iran is a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, which is under Western sanctions linked to attacks on civilians during the country's civil war.

On Wednesday, Rouhani said Britain will face "repercussions" over the seizure of an Iranian supertanker last week that authorities in Gibraltar suspect was breaching European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.

Rouhani called the seizure "mean and wrong" during a Cabinet meeting, IRNA reported.

"You are an initiator of insecurity and you will understand its repercussions," he warned the British government, calling for the "full security" of international shipping lanes.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, meanwhile, denied the supertanker belonged to Iran, saying whoever owned the oil shipment and the vessel could pursue the case through legal avenues. Iran had earlier summoned the British ambassador over what it called the "illegal interception" of the ship.


Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran contributed to this report; Rising reported from Berlin.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP World News - International incidents, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
US urges world powers to reject Iran's "nuclear extortion"
The United States is urging world powers involved in the nuclear deal with Iran not to give in to "extortion" by providing Tehran with new economic incentives to get it to back off its recent escalation of its atomic program
11:41AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Powell signals that rate cut could be coming soon
Powell sends strong signal that Fed is prepared to cut rates in light of rising uncertainties
11:38AM ( 18 minutes ago )
NBA's Silver says changes to rules on draft trades possible
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says changes to draft-trade rules may be coming
11:32AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Rip Torn of 'Larry Sanders Show,' 'Men in Black,' dies at 88
Publicist says award-winning television, film and theater actor Rip Torn has died at the age of 88
11:06AM ( 50 minutes ago )
Ocasio-Cortez feud with Pelosi tests party heading into 2020
The way Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speak at each other threatens party unity and underscores broader tensions reshaping the Democrats
11:06AM ( 50 minutes ago )
Acosta to take questions on his handling of Epstein case
Labor Secretary Alex Acosta will hold a press availability 'to make a statement and answer questions' regarding his handling of a sex trafficking case involving now-jailed billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein
11:03AM ( 52 minutes ago )
AP National News
Chants of 'USA!' greet soccer team at ticker tape parade
Construction workers sounded air horns above crowds chanting "USA! USA!" as a ticker tape parade began for the U.S. women's national soccer team in New York City
9:57AM ( 1 hour ago )
Attorney: Man who killed teen over rap music is mentally ill
The attorney for a white man charged with fatally stabbing a black teenager at a convenience store because he felt threatened by his rap music says he is mentally ill and was released from jail on a prior assault conviction without medication
9:51AM ( 2 hours ago )
Iran warns Britain of 'repercussions' over ship seizure
Iran's president says Britain will face "repercussions" over the seizure of Iranian supertanker
9:35AM ( 2 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Ukraine: Chernobyl's radioactive dust shelter unveiled
A structure built to confine radioactive dust from the nuclear reactor at the center of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster is up and running
11:14AM ( 42 minutes ago )
The Latest: Rouhani leaves door open for diplomacy, dialogue
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has told France's presidential envoy that Tehran has left the door open for diplomacy on the 2015 nuclear deal
11:13AM ( 43 minutes ago )
Brexit: Ex-PM vows legal action if UK Parliament suspended
A former British prime minister has threatened to take Conservative Party leadership candidate Boris Johnson to court if he tries to suspend Parliament to deliver a no-deal Brexit
11:10AM ( 45 minutes ago )
AP World News
The Latest: Powell says Facebook's Libra 'raises concerns'
Fed Chairman Powell says Facebook's Libra currency 'raises serious concerns'
10:58AM ( 58 minutes ago )
The Latest: Democrats criticize Trump's pressure on Fed
Democrats criticize Trump's pressure on Fed and Powell says he will serve out his term
10:43AM ( 1 hour ago )
US stocks move broadly higher as Fed chief signals rate cut
U.S. stocks are marching broadly higher in early trading, sending the S&P 500 index into record territory
10:34AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
Trump lashes out at Britain's ambassador for a second day
U.S. President Donald Trump has lashed out for a second day at Britain's ambassador to the U.S., describing him as "wacky" and a "pompous fool," after a leak of emails critical of the American administration
1:00PM ( 22 hours ago )
The Latest: Hunt: Trump remarks about UK ambassador 'wrong'
British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt says President Donald Trump's remarks about Britain's U.S. ambassador and Prime Minister Theresa May are "disrespectful and wrong."
12:50PM ( 23 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump lashes out again at UK ambassador
President Donald Trump has lashed out for a second day at the U.K. ambassador to Washington, describing him as "wacky" and a "pompous fool," after a leak of emails critical of the U.S. administration
8:26AM ( 1 day ago )
AP World News - International incidents
EU trims economic growth forecasts amid trade tensions
The European Union has trimmed its forecasts for economic growth next year as global trade tensions weigh on the continent's export-focused manufacturers
5:49AM ( 6 hours ago )
Global markets mixed, pausing ahead of Fed chief testimony
Global shares are mixed in cautious trading ahead of closely watched congressional testimony by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell
5:42AM ( 6 hours ago )
US, Chinese trade envoys in 1st contact after Trump-Xi truce
US, Chinese trade envoys in 1st phone contact after Trump-Xi truce
4:42AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Turkey slams EU for backing Cyprus in drilling dispute
Turkey is rejecting European Union condemnation of its efforts to drill for gas in waters off the coast of Cyprus and says the bloc cannot be considered an impartial mediator for the divided island
5:43AM ( 6 hours ago )
Willie Nelson brings Farm Aid 2019 to Wisconsin's dairy land
Willie Nelson, John Mellencamp, Neil Young and Dave Matthews will headline Farm Aid 2019 when the music and food festival visits Wisconsin's dairy country in September
7:31PM ( 16 hours ago )
California air boss: open to compromise in mileage standoff
California's air pollution control boss says she's open to compromise with the Trump administration over its efforts to relax mileage standards
6:58PM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
23 US governors join Calif. in opposing Trump mileage freeze
Citing climate-damaging tailpipe emissions, 23 US governors sign a pledge backing California leaders in their showdown with the Trump administration over its plans to relax vehicle mileage standards
6:00AM ( 1 day ago )
Trump promotes environmental record despite rollbacks
President Donald Trump is promoting what he's calling his "environmental leadership" despite strong skepticism from environmental advocates
6:00PM ( 1 day ago )
UAE draws down troops in Yemen in 'strategic redeployment'
The United Arab Emirates has drawn down its troop levels in Yemen but remains a key member of the Saudi-led coalition at war with Iran-aligned rebels there
4:51PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Powell signals that rate cut could be coming soon
Powell sends strong signal that Fed is prepared to cut rates in light of rising uncertainties
11:38AM ( 18 minutes ago )
NBA's Silver says changes to rules on draft trades possible
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says changes to draft-trade rules may be coming
11:32AM ( 24 minutes ago )
The Latest: Powell says pay gains too slow to lift inflation
Fed Chairman Powell says wage gains too slow to accelerate inflation
11:27AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Fans cheer World Cup champs as leaders on and off the field
Adoring fans lined New York City's Canyon of Heroes on Wednesday to praise the World Cup-winning U.S. women's national soccer team as athletic leaders on the field _ and as advocates for pay equity off it
11:26AM ( 30 minutes ago )
Djokovic's 10-game run tops Goffin in Wimbledon quarterfinal
Novak Djokovic took what was shaping up as an entertaining matchup in the Wimbledon quarterfinals and quickly turned it into a lopsided romp with a 10-game run
11:26AM ( 30 minutes ago )