Kamalvandi: Tehran's next option is 20% uranium enrichment

Vice President Mike Pence speaking Monday

President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday that Iran's measures were within the framework of the deal, which Trump pulled the United States out of past year.

The tanker's detention comes at a particularly sensitive time as tensions between the USA and Iran grow over the unraveling of the 2015 nuclear deal, from which President Donald Trump withdrew past year.

Tehran has been pushing the European signatories to the accord to protect Iran from US sanctions, which Washington re-imposed after leaving the pact previous year.

Diplomats from several countries on the IAEA board said that despite likely fiery US-Iranian exchanges at the meeting, the board was not expected to take any concrete action.

Iran has been calling on the European parties to the deal - France, Britain and Germany - to shield its economy from USA sanctions, and they have set up a vehicle for barter trade that will be able to handle small amounts.

The US has accused Iran of a "crude and transparent attempt to extort payments from the global community" by violating the 2015 nuclear deal.

In the past two weeks Iran has breached two limits pivotal to the 2015 deal, which aimed to extended the time Iran would need to obtain enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, if it chose to do so, to a year from around 2-3 months. At the meeting of the 35-nation board of governors, Washington told other world powers not to give in to Tehran's "nuclear extortion".

However, the EU's failure to ensure Iran's economic interests forced Tehran to stop honoring certain commitments, including an unlimited rise in the stockpile of enriched uranium.

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But after the USA withdrew in May 2018 and reimposed stinging sanctions on Iran, especially on its banking and oil sectors, the future of the accord became uncertain.

Jackie Wolcott, the USA ambassador to global organizations in Vienna, told the gathering of IAEA that Iran's recent moves to enrich uranium beyond the deal's limits amounted to "nuclear extortion".

In a separate closed-door meeting with member states on Wednesday, IAEA inspectors confirmed that Iran was now enriching uranium to 4.5% purity, above the 3.67% limit set by its deal.

France and other countries have called on Iran to go back to complying with the nuclear deal. Trump said on Twitter.

Iran intends to preserve the nuclear deal with major powers if all parties fulfill their obligations under it, its ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear body told a German newspaper in an interview published on Wednesday. She said Iran's "misbehaviour" should "not be rewarded". That has been a political nonstarter in Washington, meaning that the prospect of negotiations between Washington and Tehran remains bleak. Shamkhani went on to criticise European countries for their "lack of will" in providing relief from USA sanctions.

The Trump administration placed two Lebanese lawmakers from Tehran ally Hezbollah on its sanctions blacklist Tuesday, but stopped short of carrying out an earlier threat to impose such measures on Iran's top diplomat.

Trump pulled the United States out of the deal past year, saying he wanted to negotiate a better one.

Rouhani called the seizure "mean and wrong" during a Cabinet meeting, IRNA reported. He warns London: "You are an initiator of insecurity and you will understand its repercussions", without elaborating.

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