European leaders were spurred to action by Trump's threat to leave the deal and had been working with Tillerson on ways to restrain Iran's development of ballistic missiles.
Russia's state-run Zarubeznheft Oil Co. and Iran's Dana Energy are the contract's private signatories. It could also cause countries that weren't party to the deal to increase their sanctions on Iran. Last year, the country signed a $5 billion agreement with France's Total SA and a Chinese oil company to develop a sizeable offshore natural gas field.
President Donald Trump's decision to fire his top diplomat has put the Iran nuclear agreement at risk and has thrown into confusion an upcoming meeting of the accord's signatories.
Speaking to the IRNA news agency on Friday, Abbas Araqchi, who serves as the deputy foreign minister for political affairs, said renegotiating the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or similar ideas like adding an appendix to it do not basically exist in Iran's approach to the document. "The negotiating talking points are still coming from the Tillerson State Department". Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said his country would remain in the deal even if the U.S. withdraws, so long as Iran's interests are protected.
Trump has said he sees three defects in the deal: its failure to address Iran's ballistic missile program; the restrictive terms under which worldwide inspectors are allowed to visit suspected Iranian nuclear sites; and its "sunset" clauses under which the deal's limits on Iranian nuclear activities such as uranium enrichment start to expire after 10 years.
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A State Department cable obtained by Reuters last month, however, outlined a path under which the three key European allies would simply commit to try to improve the deal over time in return for Trump keeping the pact alive by renewing USA sanctions relief in May.
This is made worse by the fact that Iran now controls four capitals in the Middle East - Damascus, Beirut, Baghdad and Sana'a - and is well on its way to creating a Shiite Crescent across the Middle East. Iran "cannot remain in a deal in which there is no benefit for us", he said.
If the deal unravels and Iran concludes it has no economic incentive to hold back on its nuclear work, then Tehran could expel United Nations inspectors and head down a fast track to building nuclear weapons - possibly in a matter of months.
Iran has vowed to oppose any changes to the existing deal.
U.S. Central Command chief General Joseph Votel told the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 13 that he shares the views of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Joe Dunford that the deal is still in the best interests of the United States. "So, if [it] goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program", he said.