Iran to make further reductions to nuclear commitments

Iran partially withdrew from accord in May

By Sara Mazloumsaki and Jennifer Deaton, CNN
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Inside of a uranium conversion facility producing unit in Iran

Iran will announce on Sunday new reductions to its nuclear commitments agreed to in the unraveling Iran nuclear deal, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported Saturday.

Sunday marks the end of a 60-day deadline Iran had issued to remaining members of the nuclear deal to ease restrictions on its banking and oil sectors. IRNA cited Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sayed Abbas Araqchi and Behrooz Kamalwandi, the spokesman for the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, with the news.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and French President Emmanuel Macron discussed the deal during a phone call Saturday, according to IRNA and the Élysée presidential palace in Paris.

In May of this year, Iran announced a partial withdrawal from the nuclear accord signed with the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom. Rouhani said at the time that Iran would no longer abide by some of its commitments regarding the production of fissile material, due to President Donald Trump reneging on the agreement in May 2018 and increased diplomatic and military pressure on Tehran.

Under the 2015 deal, formally called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran agreed to slash its stockpile of enriched uranium by 90% and cap uranium enrichment at 3.67%. The agreement also reduced the number of its centrifuges by two-thirds.

During Saturday's phone call, Macron voiced "his strong concern about the risk of a further weakening of the 2015 nuclear agreement, and the consequences that would necessarily follow," the palace said in a statement. He agreed to explore options with Rouhani "for a resumption of dialogue between all parties" by July 15, according to the palace.

According to IRNA, Rouhani called on the European Union to act on its commitments to the nuclear deal and pointed to ending sanctions on Iran as a possible a way to move forward on the faltering accord.

"The European Union should fulfill more of its commitments and take more actions to salvage the deal," Rouhani said during the call, according to IRNA, later adding that "stopping all sanctions can be the beginning of dynamics between Iran and the P5+1." The P5+1 refers to the UN Security Council's five permanent members (China, France, Russia, the UK and the US) and Germany.

Rouhani also used the occasion to condemn US sanctions and pressures on Iran, calling it a "full-fledged economic war" and warning that the situation "could lead to further threats in the region and the world," according to IRNA.

The French palace added that Macron will continue talking with "Iranian authorities and the international partners concerned" over the next few days to try and decrease tensions related to the Iranian nuclear issue.

Rouhani warned on Wednesday that the nation would begin enriching uranium at a higher level within days, shortly after Iran announced it had in fact exceeded limits on its low-enriched uranium stockpiles.

"We will raise the level of enrichment to the amount we want and need," Rouhani said at a government meeting, according to the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

Rouhani also urged the US -- despite having withdrawn from the JCPOA -- and European signatories to "go back to their commitments in the nuclear deal."

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the date the United States withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal.

CNN's Caroline Kelly, Josh Berlinger, Tamara Qiblawi, Amir Ahmed and Eva Tapiero contributed to this report.

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