US, Iran set to clash at UN nuclear watchdog

The United States will use an emergency meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog’s board on Wednesday to raise pressure on Iran over breaches of its nuclear deal, but diplomats expect no concrete action as parties to the deal considers their next move.

In the past two weeks, Iran has breached two limits central to the deal, which aimed to extended the time Iran would need to obtain enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, if it chose to, to a year from around 2-3 months.

President Hassan Rouhani said that Iran’s measures were within the framework of the deal, rejecting a warning by European parties to the pact to continue its full compliance.

Iran says it is responding to punishing economic sanctions Washington has imposed on Tehran since it pulled out of the deal a year ago. Washington says it is open to talks on a more far-reaching deal but Iran says it must first be able to sell as much oil as it did before the US withdrawal.

In a tweet, Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif said it was ironic Wednesday’s meeting had been called by the United States, given it had withdrawn from the nuclear deal and “punishes all who observe it.”

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Iran says it will continue to breach limits of the deal one by one until it receives the economic windfall the deal promised.

“It was a huge mistake by the Americans to leave the deal,” said Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation. “That has caused all the problems.”

“The European (parties to deal) had enough time to salvage the pact,” he added.

Washington meanwhile is set on isolating Iran to force it to negotiate over the nuclear pact, its missile program, and its regional behavior. Iran’s clerical rulers have ruled out talks with Washington until sanctions are lifted and the United States returns to the deal.

“The international community must hold Iran’s regime accountable,” the United States said in a statement explaining its decision to call the Board of Governors meeting.