Iran has accelerated enrichment of uranium, says United Nations watchdog

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"We had frank and serious talks with (visiting German Foreign Minister Heiko) Maas".

Iran recently threatened to resume higher enrichment in 60 days if no new nuclear deal is in place, beyond the level permitted by the current one between Tehran and world powers.

"Mr. Trump himself has announced that the USA has launched an economic war against Iran", Zarif said.

Barbara Slavin, who leads the Atlantic Council's Future Iran Initiative, told JNS that these developments are "not surprising as it is exactly what Iran said it would do after the United States announced a complete embargo on Iran's sale of oil". Zarif then added that Tehran is ready to work with the European Union (EU) to save what remains of the agreement, but for this to happen it is essential "to stop the economic war launched by America".

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Recent weeks have seen US-Iranian confrontation sharply increase, a year after Washington abandoned an agreement between Iran and world powers to curb Teheran's nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of global financial sanctions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif welcomed Abe's visit, but stressed Trump had engaged in an "economic war" against Iran through the imposition of sanctions.

President Donald Trump previous year withdrew the United States from world powers' 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sweeping sanctions.

But tensions with the United States have mounted since President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the accord in 2018 and reimposed sweeping sanctions.

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"We want to avoid any misunderstandings that would lead to automatic reactions that could lead to violence", Maas said.

The European partners had not done enough to provide Iran with alternative ways to trade, he said. Diplomats say the system is unlikely to have much impact on commercial trade with Iran but could be used for humanitarian transactions that are permitted under United States sanctions.

"This war. will never be beneficial for any country and the Iranian people will resist these pressures and bullying behaviours", Iran's state TV quoted Rouhani as saying. Last month, Iran announced that it would scale back some of the commitments it made under the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as a result of which the country's stockpiles should start exceeding the caps specified in the agreement. Trump condemned the accord, signed by his predecessor Barack Obama, as flawed for not being permanent and for not covering Iran's ballistic missile program or its role in conflicts around the Middle East.

The semi-official Tasnim news agency reported that Ali Asghar Zarean, deputy head of Iran's nuclear department, said Tehran had increased the number of its centrifuges to 1,044 at the Fordo underground facility.

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Last month, Washington upped the ante by deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Gulf to send a "clear and unmistakable message" to Iran.

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