A sudden White House announcement that a USA aircraft carrier and a bomber wing would be deployed in the Persian Gulf to counter Iran comes just days ahead of the anniversary of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw America from Tehran's nuclear deal.
But when Trump withdrew past year, the USA began reimposing sanctions on Iran, targeting its revenue-rich oil and banking sectors in particular.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Wednesday his country will suspend its compliance with prohibitions on stockpiles of enriched uranium and heavy water that were imposed as part of the 2015 global agreement on its nuclear program.
Iran announced on Wednesday that it was reducing curbs to its nuclear program, just short of violating the terms of the 2015 accord with world powers. Weapons-grade uranium requires a 90 percent enrichment, though some analysts warn that Iran could reach that threshold relatively quickly given how advanced its nuclear program had become prior to the nuclear deal's enactment.
It said deputy Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi had handed the decision to the ambassadors of the five countries in a meeting on Wednesday.
"We regret that the USA has further aggravated the tension on the Iranian nuclear issue", Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said. "We will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons", Netanyahu said.
Corporations feared being blacklisted in the U.S. more than they feared losing a share in the Iranian market. Iran has stopped its sale of excess uranium and heavy water as a first step - something required under the deal.
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"We will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon", Netanyahu said at an official ceremony to mark the annual Memorial Day held at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem. The United States should be prepared to use all relevant measures, including visa denials and asset forfeitures, to protect the integrity of our sanctions and the maximum pressure campaign, and I will continue to work with the Trump administration and my colleagues to ensure that we do.
Iran has continued abiding by the stipulations of the deal, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, but had been expressing increasing frustration with the inability of Europeans to provide economic relief, culminating in Wednesday's threat to resume greater enrichment of uranium.
Russia expects the 2015 Iran nuclear deal's European signatories to fulfill their obligations under the landmark 2015 pact, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday at a joint press conference in Moscow with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif.
U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said late Sunday that his country is deploying a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East, aiming "to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force".
The US also has ended waivers for nations buying Iranian crude oil, a key source of revenue for Iran's government. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif in Moscow and said the USA sanctions - stopping Western businesses operating in Iran and the export of Iranian oil - had undermined the spirit of the deal.
Rouhani's announcement came just days after US national security adviser John Bolton used the routine deployment of an American aircraft carrier and bomber task force to threaten Iran with "unrelenting force"-a move critics denounced as a risky step in the direction of all-out war".
He said that Iran was simply seeking to "save face" after "striking a deal which was not respected by the other side".