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Iran blasts 'stupid' US nuclear pullout, warns over arms ban

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Tehran (AFP)

Iran's president said Wednesday the United States made a "stupid mistake" by abandoning a nuclear deal and warned of severe consequences if its allies agree to extend an arms embargo.

The United States is waging a campaign to extend the ban on selling conventional weapons to Iran, which is set to be progressively eased starting in October.

The ban is to be lifted in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which blessed the landmark international agreement that placed limits on Iran's nuclear programme in 2015.

US President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord -- known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA -- in 2018 and began reimposing sanctions on the Islamic republic.

"America made a very stupid mistake by abandoning this agreement," his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, said at a televised cabinet meeting.

"The wise thing for the US is to return to the JCPOA... but those in charge today won't ever reach such wisdom," he added.

Rouhani said the lifting of the embargo was "an inseparable part" of the nuclear accord.

"If it is ever reimposed... they know well what severe consequences and what historical defeat awaits them if they make such a mistake."

Rouhani did not elaborate on the consequences but said they were detailed in a letter sent previously to the remaining parties to the deal -- Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.

Tehran has progressively scaled back its commitments to the JCPOA in retaliation to the US pullout and what it sees as European inaction to salvage the accord.

Iran's Supreme National Security Council secretary, Ali Shamkhani, warned Sunday that the deal would "die forever" if the embargo is extended.

Tehran has in the past threatened to retaliate against any reimposition of UN sanctions by withdrawing from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Washington has said it would use a legal argument based on an interpretation of Resolution 2231 that it remains a "participant" in the deal despite renouncing it, and can extend the arms embargo on Tehran or see more stringent sanctions reimposed.

Iran, for its part, accuses the US of violating the resolution over its 2018 withdrawal.

"There is no longer a JCPOA for America," Rouhani said.

He added that the US "should know, and some other countries too, that Iran will in no way accept a violation of Resolution 2231", while stressing that lifting the embargo is Iran's "inalienable right".

Rouhani said Iran would not use weapons it purchases to "add fuel to the fire" but to "extinguish flames" by not allowing conflicts to take place.

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