Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif enter a hall during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, May 8, 2019. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

The Latest: Germany very concerned at Iranian nuclear threat

May 08, 2019 - 8:58 am

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The Latest on Iran's decision to step away from embattled nuclear deal (all times local):

6:25 p.m.

Germany is expressing "great concern" at Iran's threat to resume higher enrichment of uranium, and calling for further escalation to be avoided.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Wednesday that "we have learned of Iran's announcement with great concern and we will look at this very closely now."

He said Berlin wants to hold on to the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which the U.S. unilaterally withdrew from last year, and is in talks with the remaining parties.

Maas added that "all steps must be avoided that could endanger regional stability and security."


4:55 p.m.

France's defense minister has voiced deep concern over Iran's threat to resume higher enrichment of uranium, saying that the question of sanctions "will be raised" if the nuclear deal isn't respected.

Florence Parly has told BFMTV that "nothing would be worse than Iran leaving this deal."

Iran has threatened to resume higher enrichment of uranium in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for its 2015 nuclear deal that President Donald Trump withdrew from a year ago. President Hassan Rouhani also said that Iran would stop exporting excess uranium and heavy water from its nuclear program — two requirements of the deal.

Parly said that "we (Europeans) absolutely want to keep this agreement alive."


4:30 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the United States is to blame for Iran's decision to partially withdraw from the landmark 2015 nuclear accord limiting Tehran's nuclear program.

Lavrov has met with Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Moscow and reaffirmed their support for the deal, and blamed the U.S. for undermining it.

The Russian foreign minister says "the U.S. is to blame for the situation and it makes it difficult for both Iran to fulfill its obligations and ... for the general state of the nuclear non-proliferation regime."

Lavrov said that the ministers agreed to continue working with all remaining signatories to the deal to ensure obligations are honored even if the U.S. won't return to the table

Zarif insisted that Iran's decision to partially withdraw from certain provisions did not violate the agreement, and asserted it was provoked by U.S. actions toward Iran.

He also said Iran will uphold its obligations if European signatories to the deal uphold theirs.


3:30 p.m.

China says the U.S. has "further aggravated" tensions over the Iran nuclear issue.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday that China appreciated Iran's "strict implementation" of its 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump withdrew from a year ago.

Geng said China "calls on all parties concerned to exercise restraint" and avoid escalating tensions.

Geng's comments came after Washington moved to deploy an aircraft carrier and a bomber wing to confront unspecified threats from Tehran.

Iran threatened Wednesday to resume higher enrichment of uranium in 60 days if world powers fail to negotiate new terms for the 2015 deal.

A key Iranian ally and trading partner, China was a signatory to the deal and continues to support it, along with Britain, Russia, the European Union, France and Germany.

2:30 p.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the situation surrounding the fate of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord has been complicated by "irresponsible behavior" from Washington.

Lavrov is meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Moscow on Wednesday. The nuclear deal will be at the top of their agenda after Iran announced it would suspend some of its commitments in response to U.S. sanctions.

Lavrov says they will discuss the "unacceptable situation" that has been exacerbated by the United States. Russia appears poised to stand by Tehran and cast blame on Washington, which withdrew from the nuclear deal last year. Moscow is a signatory to the deal, along with the European Union, Britain, France, Germany and China.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly warned there would be consequences for "ill-advised" steps taken by the U.S. against Iran.


2 p.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is responding to Iran's decision to withdraw partially from the nuclear deal with world powers.

Netanyahu spoke Wednesday at a state Memorial Day ceremony in Jerusalem and said Israel would "not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons."

Israel's prime minister has been an outspoken critic of the 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers, and welcomed President Donald Trump's withdrawal from the deal last year. Netanyahu considers Iran to be Israel's greatest threat, and Iranian leaders frequently condemn Israel and call for its destruction.

Netanyahu says Israel "will continue to fight those who seek to take our lives, and we will thrust our roots even deeper into the soil of our homeland."

Iran has denied ever seeking nuclear weapons, insisting its atomic program is for entirely peaceful purposes.

1:15 p.m.

A Russian member of parliament says Iran's partial withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord is a direct response to increased pressure from Washington.

Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the Russian State Duma's foreign affairs committee, told reporters Wednesday that the U.S. has been ramping up pressure on Iran since President Donald Trump withdrew America from the deal last year.

He noted that "U.S. sanctions were reinstated, the (Revolutionary Guard) was branded a terrorist organization, and just yesterday national security adviser John Bolton said, on Washington's behalf, that ships and bombers would be deployed to the Iranian coast."

Slutsky says there is still hope of preserving the agreement and called on all sides to return to the negotiating table.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting his Iranian counterpart in Moscow on Wednesday.


10:15 a.m.

Iran's president says the Islamic Republic will keep its excess enriched uranium and heavy water, setting a 60-day deadline for new terms for its nuclear deal.

Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that if that deadline passes without better terms, Iran will begin higher enrichment of uranium.

He made the comments in a live address on Wednesday, the anniversary of President Donald Trump pulling America out of the accord.

The 2015 deal saw sanctions on Iran lifted in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. The U.S. has restored crippling sanctions since withdrawing.

Iran sent letters on its decision to the leaders of Britain, China, the European Union, France and Germany. All were signatories to the nuclear deal. A letter was also to go to Russia.


9:30 a.m.

Iranian state television says letters outlining the Islamic Republic's partial withdrawal from its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers have been delivered to ambassadors.

State TV made the announcement Wednesday. It did not elaborate on what steps Iran planned to take.

The letters were to be delivered to the leaders of Britain, China, the European Union, France and Germany. All were signatories to the nuclear deal, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. A letter was also to go to Russia.

The move came a year to the date President Donald Trump withdrew America from the accord.

The letters will come as officials in the Islamic Republic previously warned that Iran might increase its uranium enrichment, potentially pulling away from a deal it has sought to salvage for months.

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