Iran nuclear deal: developments since U.S. walkout


With U.S. sanctions back in force Tuesday, here is a look-back over developments in the 90 days since President Donald Trump withdrew from a hard-won 2015 accord on Iran's nuclear programme:

Trump pulls the U.S. out of the landmark nuclear pact between world powers and Iran on 8 May, re-instating Washington's sanctions on Iran and companies with ties to the Islamic republic.

"The Iran deal is defective at its core," he says.

Washington warns other countries to end trade and investment in Iran and stop buying its oil or face punitive measures, a move which also threatens foreign companies doing deals with Iran. Tehran's regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Israel applaud the decision. But other parties to the deal – Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China – say Iran has abided by its commitment and that they are determined to save the agreement and ensure continued economic benefits for Iran.

On 12 May, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says Iran is preparing to resume "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment, limited under the accord, unless Europe provides solid guarantees to maintain trade ties reinstated under the deal. Washington warns on 21 May that Iran will be hit with the "strongest sanctions in history" unless it capitulates to a series of U.S. demands aimed at curbing its missile programme and "malign regional behaviour".

On 30 May, the United States places several Iranian state groups on its sanctions blacklist, accusing them of serious human rights abuses and censorship. On June 4, Iran notifies the International Atomic Energy Agency of the launch of a plan to increase its uranium enrichment capacity.

A top U.S. official says on 2 July that Washington is determined to force Iran to change behaviour by cutting its oil exports to zero, confident the world has enough spare oil capacity to cope.

President Hassan Rouhani responds on 3 July, saying the United States can never prevent Iran from exporting its oil.

On 6 July, Tehran's five remaining partners vow in Vienna to back "the continuation of Iran's export of oil and gas".

On 16 July, EU countries reject the U.S. demand that they economically isolate Iran and move to give European firms legal cover to operate in Iran. A day later the Trump administration rejects calls by Brussels for an exemption from sanctions. A top Iranian official says Tehran is ready to boost its uranium enrichment to higher levels if talks fail with Europe on salvaging the nuclear deal. Iran calls on the UN's top court, the International Court of Justice, to order the United States to immediately lift sanctions, claiming they are causing "irreparable prejudice".

On 22 July, Rouhani tells the U.S. it should not "play with the lion's tail" and warns any conflict with Iran would be the "mother of all wars". Trump responds with an all-caps Twitter tirade warning against making threats to the United States, "OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE".

On 30 July, however, Trump says he is ready to meet with Iranian leaders "anytime they want" and promises "no preconditions". "Threats, sanctions & PR stunts won't work," Iran's foreign minister says on Twitter. "America is not trustworthy," Iran's interior minister says.

On 3 August, protesters attack a religious school in a province near Tehran, as part of sporadic protests simmering ahead of the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions on 7 August. The conservative Fars news agency acknowledges protests have taken place in "five or six cities" since 31 July over water shortages, rising prices and joblessness, with "about 1,000 or 2,000 people" taking part.    (AFP)

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