Iran's Mohammad Javid Zarif warns there is 'no prohibition' on the enrichment of uranium

Diplomatic tensions have risen over the French ambassador to Washington’s statement on JCPOA

File-This Feb. 13, 2019, file photo shows  Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaking at a news conference in Tehran, Iran. Zarif suddenly resigned late Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, without warning, offering an “apology” to the nation as the nuclear deal he negotiated with world powers stands on the verge of collapse after the U.S. withdrew from the accord.  (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)
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Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javid Zarif said on Monday that a 2015 nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, does not prevent Tehran from developing uranium following diplomatic remarks that claimed otherwise.

Tehran agreed with world powers in 2015 to restrict its nuclear program in return for lifting of sanctions that had severely impacted its economy.

Some of the restrictions are expected to be removed after 10 years, and some after 15 years.

Mr Zarif reminded European states that “there is no prohibition on the enrichment of uranium by Iran under NPT, JCPOA or UNSC 2231”

His comments follow a tweet by the French ambassador to Washington, Gerard Araud, that claimed “it’s false to say that at the expiration of the JCPOA (nuclear deal), Iran will be allowed to enrich uranium.”

The statement has been removed from Mr Araud’s Twitter account.

Mr Zarif's address was directed to Germany, France and Britain, who signed the historic agreement with Iran under which uranium enrichment is limited but not banned.

“Might be useful for European partners to actually read the document they signed on to and pledged to defend,” the Iranian official said on Twitter.

Under the agreement, Iran can only enrich uranium to 3.67 per cent, far below the requirement to develop nuclear weapons.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord last year, citing that one of the defects in the deal is that limits on Tehran’s nuclear program are set to expire soon.

Mr Trump described the agreement as one of the “worst deals I have ever witnessed”.

Yet, European powers have vowed to stand by the historic deal despite Mr Trump's move.

Tehran on Sunday summoned French ambassador Philippe Thiebaud over Mr Araud’s comments, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency reported.

Tehran’s foreign ministry condemned Mr Araud’s statement, saying it is “unacceptable” and accused the diplomat over an “open violation” of the JCPOA.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Mr Araud’s comments were “a major violation of the object and purpose of the JCPOA,” adding they needed “immediate clarification by Paris, or we act accordingly”.

Mr Araud, who took part in nuclear talks with Tehran, is expected to retire on April 20.