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France, UK, Germany trigger dispute mechanism in nuclear deal

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Tehran — Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday rejected the UK prime minister's suggestion that a 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran be replaced with a "Trump deal," a day after France, Germany and the UK adopted a mechanism that could lead to more sanctions on Tehran.

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The three European countries on Tuesday triggered a dispute resolution mechanism in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action due to Tehran's intention to remove uranium enrichment limits that were part of the 2015 deal among other steps taken to curtail its commitments under the deal.

"I don't know how this Mr. Prime Minister thinks. He says 'set aside the JCPOA and implement the Trump plan'," Rouhani said at a televised speech during the weekly Cabinet session. "What has Trump done except to break promises and violate international regulations and rules."

Iran started in 2019 to curtail its commitments to the 2015 deal that limited its nuclear ambitions after the US withdrew from the agreement and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran in November 2018.

The sanctions have devastated the country's oil industry, with crude production falling by about 30% since the sanctions were re-imposed to 2.12 million b/d in December, according to the latest S&P Global Platts OPEC survey.

TRUMP DEAL

The UK's Boris Johnson told BBC on Tuesday that the 2015 agreement, which also includes Russia and China, could be replaced by an unspecified deal espoused by US President Donald Trump

"If we're going to get rid of it then we need a replacement," he told BBC Breakfast. "Let's replace it with the Trump deal."

Trump has taken a hardline approach against Iran and tensions between the two countries intensified in January when the US killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad for his role in attacks on US interests and personnel in Iraq. That killing prompted retaliatory attacks from Iran on US troops in Iraq.

European countries have been less aggressive toward Iran, saying the dispute resolution mechanism is not meant to put more pressure on Tehran.

"Our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran," the three countries said in a joint statement on Tuesday regarding the dispute resolution mechanism. "Our hope is to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA."

REVERSIBLE STEPS

Rouhani rejected the European troika's dispute mechanism, but said it could reverse the nuclear steps it had taken if sanctions are lifted.

"Iran has explicitly announced to the Americans and in recent phone calls to two European leaders that what Iran has done in the nuclear area is reversible," Rouhani said.

Rouhani also reiterated the US troops stationed in the Middle East should leave, threatening their security.

"Today the US soldier is not secure and tomorrow the European soldier may be not secure too," Rouhani said. "It is in your interest to leave the region... not by war but reasonably."