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Trump tweets Iran will 'never have a nuclear weapon'

By AFP - Jan 06,2020 - Last updated at Jan 06,2020

WASHINGTON/ MOSCOW — President Donald Trump on Monday repeated his insistence that Iran will not be allowed to obtain a nuclear weapon, amid mounting tension over the US killing of a top Iranian commander.

Writing in all-caps, the US leader tweeted: "IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON!"

The tweet came a day after Tehran announced it was further winding down observance of parts of an international deal struck to ensure that the country does not secretly develop a nuclear weapon under cover of its civilian nuclear industry.

Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 deal negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama. Last year, Iran resumed uranium enrichment, reporting a tenfold increase in production.

Tensions between the two countries spiked last week when a US drone strike in Baghdad killed Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force.

While Iran has threatened retaliation for the killing, Trump has warned that the US will strike "very hard and very fast" at as many as 52 Iranian targets if the Islamic republic does attack US personnel or assets.

Trump’s tweet did not add any details about steps he was considering to prevent Iran from reviving its nuclear programme. Iran has always denied any military dimension to its nuclear project.

Meanwhile, Moscow on Monday urged parties to the Iran nuclear deal to treat salvaging the agreement as a “priority”, calling on European partners to fulfill their obligations to ensure Iran stays committed to the accord.

Tehran announced the latest rollback of its commitments under the 2015 accord on Sunday following the US assassination of a top general.

Russia is one of the five remaining parties in the deal following the pullout by the US in 2018, with the other four being Britain, China, France and Germany.

“Keeping the broad agreements and ensuring their sustained implementation must remain a priority task for all partners,” the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

It said the announcement by Tehran of a further rollback of its commitments, by foregoing the limit on the number of centrifuges, “does not carry any threat from the point of view of nuclear weapon proliferation”.

Russia “keeps full commitment” to the deal and is “ready to continue work” on it, the statement said, calling on “political will and a decisive collective response” from others.

“We are certain that when these challenges are overcome, the Iranian side will have no reason to deviate from the agreed-upon demands,” it said.

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