The 2015 nuclear deal is close to collapse after the US tightened oil sanctions against Iran again last week, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has said.
“We have given diplomacy enough time but enough is enough,” the minister, who was one of the architects of the deal, wrote in the Wednesday edition of the Etemad newspaper.
He said the latest US sanctions and the powerlessness of the other signatories to the deal to do anything about them had left Iran feeling hopeless. “The nuclear deal is rapidly moving towards an end point,” he wrote.
US President Donald Trump last year decided unilaterally to withdraw from the deal, which lifted economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for its abandonment of its nuclear weapons programme.
Iran and the other signatories – the European Union, Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia – agreed to continue to abide by it.
Araghchi said Iran’s compliance had been certified multiple times by the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna and criticized the other parties to the deal for promising that the US withdrawal would not affect its implementation, especially the economic aspects.
“In practice nothing has happened,” the minister said.
The latest US sanctions are set to come into force on Thursday and mean the end to waivers granted to eight countries including China and India that had been allowed to buy Iranian oil despite US sanctions that came into effect in November.
Those countries will now risk US sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil.
Iran is set to begin rationing petrol as it struggles to offset the huge impact the US sanctions have had on the country’s economy.
As of Thursday, the current price of 10,000 rials per litre (24 dollar cents) will be limited to the first 60 litres per car. Iranian consumers will have to pay more than double thereafter, the Tasnim news agency reported on Wednesday.
The price may seem low by Western standards, but for Iranians with an average monthly income of around 340 dollars, the price hike is a major problem.
Iran last rationed fuel in 2007 under then president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The controversial decision led to nationwide protests.
Those measures have been incrementally walked back since his successor Hassan Rowhani came to power in 2013, but now Rowhani is being forced to consider reversing that course.
The sanctions could undermine the reformist president and other moderates’ policy of rapprochement with the West; and after six years out of office, Iran’s hardliners are now hoping to make a political comeback.
On the international stage, there are fears that a further tightening on oil exports, which provide the country’s main income, could cause new geopolitical headaches.
Iran has threatened to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, which could lead to military clashes as well as dealing a blow to the international oil trade.