The United States said on Wednesday that it would end lifting sanctions for nations remaining in the Iranian nuclear deal and further bring the deal to the brink of collapse.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he is responding to Iran's "brinkmanship" over nuclear steps aimed at pressuring the United States to lift the sanctions required by the 2015 agreement.
"These escalating measures are unacceptable and I cannot justify renewing the waiver," said Pompeo in a statement.
President Donald Trump came across the agreement negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama that Iran had drastically restricted its nuclear activities.
So far, however, the Trump administration had issued exemptions to allow companies, especially from Russia, that are still present in Iran to implement the agreement.
In particular, the United States will lift the exemptions that allowed the heavy water reactor in Arak to be changed, preventing plutonium from being used for military purposes, and the export of fuel to spent and scrap research reactors.
Pompeo said the United States will issue a definitive 60-day derogation to allow companies involved in the projects to complete their business.
However, the United States has not attempted to stop international support for Bushehr, Iran's only oil-rich nuclear power plant, where Russia has supplied fuel.
Pompeo said the United States would extend Bushehr by 90 days to "ensure the security of the operation," but reserved the right to change them at will.
To justify the move, Pompeo also referred to recent comments by Iranian senior leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said that it was an "Islamic duty" to fight for the "liberation of Palestine", and convicted supporters of Israel.
Pompeo accused Khamenei of invoking the Holocaust and said: "The regime's hideous rhetoric only strengthens the international community's determination to address its threats."
The UK, France and Germany – along with Russia and China – continue to support the nuclear deal and say it works by reducing Iran's nuclear activities.
The Trump administration, which is closely linked to Israel and Iran's regional rival Saudi Arabia, described the deal as "catastrophe" and said the bigger problem was reducing Tehran's activities in the region.
The Iranian economy was under intense pressure from the sanctions, while Trump also used military force and killed a top Iranian general in a drone attack in January.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)