President Donald Trump has announced he will withdraw the US from an Obama-era nuclear agreement with Iran.
Calling it “decaying and rotten”, President Trump said the deal was “an embarrassment” to him “as a citizen”.
Going against advice from European allies, the president said he would re-impose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.
Iran has responded saying that it was preparing to restart uranium enrichment, key for making both nuclear energy and weapons.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said: “The US has announced that it doesn’t respect its commitments.
“I have ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to be ready to start the enrichment of uranium at industrial levels.”
Hassan Rouhani said he would “wait a few weeks” to speak to allies and the other signatories to the nuclear deal.
According to the Treasury, economic sanctions would not be re-imposed on Iran immediately, but would be subject to 90-day and 180-day wind-down periods.
In a statement on its website, the Treasury said sanctions would be re-imposed on the industries mentioned in the 2015 deal, including Iran’s oil sector, aircraft exports, precious metals trade, and Iranian government attempts to buy US dollar banknotes.
The UK, France and Germany – who are also signatories to the deal – have said they “regret” the American decision.
The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, said the EU was “determined to preserve” the deal.
However, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu says he “fully supports” President Trump’s “bold” withdrawal from a “disastrous” deal.
Donald Trump had previously complained that the deal only limited Iran’s nuclear activities for a fixed period; had failed to stop the development of ballistic missiles; and had handed Iran a $100 billion windfall that it used “as a slush fund for weapons, terror, and oppression” across the Middle East.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who was involving in negotiating the deal, tweeted that pulling out of it risked “dragging the world back to the brink we faced a few years ago”.
The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) saw Iran agree to limit the size of its stockpile of enriched uranium – which is used to make reactor fuel, but also nuclear weapons – for 15 years and the number of centrifuges installed to enrich uranium for 10 years.
Iran also agreed to modify a heavy water facility so it could not produce plutonium suitable for a bomb.