Khamenei: ‘evil’ UK’s seizure of Iran tanker will be answered
Cites ‘insolent’ EU’s failure to protect trade
Iran’s supreme leader upped the ante in a volatile stand-off with the United States yesterday, warning Tehran would continue removing restraints on its nuclear programme and retaliate for the seizure of an Iranian oil tanker.
Tensions have spiked since US President Donald Trump last year abandoned world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran under which it agreed to curtail its enrichment of uranium in return for the lifting of global sanctions crippling its economy.
European parties to the pact decided on Monday not to trigger the deal’s dispute mechanism in favour of pursuing more talks and avert any US-Iranian military conflict, but took no action to shield Iran against a sanctions clampdown by Trump.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s ultimate authority, accused Britain, Germany and France of failing to uphold obligations under the deal to restore Iranian access to global trade, especially for Tehran’s oil exports blocked by US sanctions.
“According to our foreign minister, Europe made 11 commitments, none of which they abided by. We abided by our commitments and even beyond them. Now that we’ve begun to reduce our commitments, they oppose it. How insolent! You didn’t abide by your commitments!” Khamenei said, according to his website.
“We have started to reduce our commitments and this trend shall continue,” Khamenei said in remarks carried by state television.
He has previously upbraided European powers for not standing up to Trump and circumventing his sanctions noose. Russia and China are also parties to the accord.
But it was the first time Khamenei explicitly pledged to press ahead with breaches of the nuclear deal, spurning European appeals to Iran to restore limits on enrichment aimed at obviating any dash to developing atomic bombs.
“Western governments’ major vice is their arrogance,” Khamenei said. “If the country opposing them is a weak one, their arrogance works. But if it’s a country that knows and stands up against them, they will be defeated.”
Khamenei also said Iran would respond to Britain’s “piracy” over the seizure in early July of an Iranian oil tanker in Gibraltar. “Evil Britain commits piracy and steals our ship ... and gives it a legal appearance. The Islamic Republic...will not leave this wickedness unanswered and will respond to it at an appropriate time and place,” he said.