A White House claim that Iran violated the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal before the agreement even existed has been ridiculed as “illogical”.
Stephanie Grisham, appointed press secretary by Donald Trump last month, issued a statement on Monday that said: “There is little doubt that even before the deal’s existence, Iran was violating its terms.”
Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif responded in a message on Twitter: “Seriously?”
Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, said the White House charge was “illogical”.
The White House did not elaborate on how Iran could break the terms of the deal before it had been implemented.
Last year Mr Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the 2015 accord between Iran and world powers which saw it limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
On Monday, officials acknowledged Iran broke through the limit the deal placed on its stockpile of enriched uranium. Mr Zarif confirmed that his country had exceeded the 300kg limit permitted under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The move marked Iran’s first major step beyond the terms of the pact since the US pulled out. Mr Zarif said the move was not a violation of the accord, arguing that Tehran was exercising its right to respond to the US walkout.
“The Iranian regime took action today to increase its uranium enrichment. It was a mistake under the Iran nuclear deal to allow Iran to enrich uranium at any level,” the White House press secretary said in the statement.
Mr Trump, asked if he had a message for Iran, said, “No message to Iran. They know what they’re doing. They know what they’re playing with, and I think they’re playing with fire. So, no message to Iran whatsoever.”
It comes less than two weeks after the president said he ordered air strikes against Iranian targets, only to cancel them shortly before impact.
European powers have urged Iran not to take further steps that would violate the agreement, but they held off on declaring the agreement void or announcing sanctions of their own.
Additional reporting by agencies
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