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28 Apr, 2019 06:48

Iranian FM Zarif suggests quitting nuclear non-proliferation treaty amid US sanctions squeeze

Iranian FM Zarif suggests quitting nuclear non-proliferation treaty amid US sanctions squeeze

Iran may pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as part of retaliatory measures to a renewed sanctions push from Washington, Iran’s foreign minister has said.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said that quitting the agreement designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons was among “numerous options” available to Tehran, state broadcaster IRIB reported on Sunday. The move comes after the Trump administration announced new efforts on Monday to cut Iranian oil exports “to zero” by removing exemptions from sanctions for US buyers of Iranian crude.

“The Islamic Republic’s choices are numerous, and the country’s authorities are considering them... and leaving [the] NPT (nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) is one of them,” Zarif said.

His comments follow strong rhetoric from US military officials against Tehran on Saturday. Speaking during a visit to Gulf allies aimed at creating “common cause against the threat of Iran,” US Central Command chief General Kenneth McKenzie said enough resources would be deployed to prevent Iran from taking “dangerous” actions. “We will be able to respond effectively,” he said.

Washington's latest measures against Iran ended six months of waivers granted to its eight biggest oil customers, allowing them to continue Iranian imports without falling foul of the American sanctions regime. However, they now have until May 1 to cease orders for Iranian crude or risk the wrath of the US.

First ratified in 1970, the NPT aims to promote the eventual disarmament of existing nuclear arsenals, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons to other countries, and the promotion of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Four countries have never signed up to the accords: South Sudan, Israel, Pakistan, and India.

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