Iran to reduce commitments to nuclear deal amid USA pressure, military moves

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference on Monday

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference on Monday

US National Security Advisor John Bolton said on Sunday that the carrier group and a bomber task force were being dispatched in response to "a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings" about Iranian reprisals for US sanctions pressure.

The Trump administration made the announcement just days before the first anniversary on Wednesday of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw America from the Iran nuclear deal.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has been under intense domestic political pressure to produce some kind of countermeasure following the USA withdrawal.

"Partial and total reduction of some of Iran's commitments and resumption of some nuclear activities which were ceased following [the USA exit of the nuclear deal] are the first step by Iran responding to US' withdrawal from the nuclear deal and the lack commitment from European countries to meet their vows", the news agency said.

Following the exit from the Iran nuclear deal in May past year, the USA government has kept piling up pressure on Iran through a series of sanctions.

The Trump administration has restored US sanctions and extended them, effectively ordering countries around the world to stop buying Iranian oil or face sanctions of their own.

Exactly what prompted the U.S. action was unclear, and Iran dismissed the move as "psychological warfare".

So far, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna has confirmed in a series of reports that Iran has upheld its side of the bargain by significantly reducing its nuclear activities.

Iran talked of striking back at the United States last month, after President Trump announced short-term exceptions permitting some Iranian oil trade would be discontinued.

It suggested in its Tuesday edition that Iran may install advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility and begin enrichment at its Fordo facility, activities prohibited under the nuclear deal.

Iran insists the announcements will not amount to a complete withdrawal from the agreement, and may include a two-month deadline for the European Union to implement its obligations before further Iranian steps are taken.

The U.S. last week stopped issuing waivers for countries importing Iranian crude oil, a crucial source of cash for Iran's government.

Iran's hard-line Javad newspaper, associated with the Revolutionary Guard, said Wednesday would "ignite the matchstick for burning the deal".

The news agency also quoted a senior legislator, Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, as saying that Iran's response to the United States moves "will be within the framework" of the 2015 deal.

"Bolton lacks military and security understanding and his remarks are mostly aimed at attracting attention", Keyvan Khosravi said on Monday night after Bolton said the USA is deploying a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East in response to troubling "indications and warnings" from Iran and to show the United States will retaliate with "unrelenting force" to any attack.

"If these actions take place, if they do by some third-party proxy, a militia group, Hezbollah, we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that".