While the UN, EU, International Atomic Energy Agency and a host of others implored President Trump late Monday to preserve the landmark Iran nuclear deal - even if the US couldn't achieve concessions on Iran's ballistic missiles program that it has been aggressively pushing - Iranian officials have been cranking their rhetoric up to "11", with Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, acknowledging during a news broadcast on state television that the Iranian leadership had discussed leaving the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as "one of three options that we are considering" in response to the US potentially scrapping the deal.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
While this isn't the first time Iran has threatened to leave the NPT - the cornerstone of the international nonproliferation order - it's the first time the leadership has threatened to leave as a tit-for-tat response to the US leaving the Iran deal. While Iran committed to not pursuing a nuclear weapon when it joined the NPT in 1970, the Iran deal imposed tighter restrictions on the regime, per Reuters.
Of course, by leaving both agreements, Iran would only fuel its enemies' claims that the Islamic Republic is explicitly seeking to build a nuclear weapon.
Per the Jerusalem Post, Shamkhani, who spoke with reporters shortly before departing for Russia, said the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran was ready for some "surprising actions" if the nuclear deal is scrapped.
A senior Iranian official said on Tuesday that Tehran might quit a treaty designed to stop the spread of nuclear weapons if U.S. President Donald Trump scraps the nuclear accord Iran signed with world powers in 2015.
Trump has said that unless European allies fix what he has called “terrible flaws” in the accord by May 12, he will restore U.S. economic sanctions on Iran, which would be a severe blow to the pact.
The other powers that signed it - Russia, China, Germany, Britain and France - have all said they want to preserve the agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of most international sanctions.
Meanwhile, over the weekend (and again on Monday), Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned that Tehran would reactivate its centrifuges should the US drop out of the deal and reimpose economic sanctions. On Tuesday, the war of words ratcheted higher when Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned that Trump should keep the deal in its current format or face "severe consequences."
"I am telling those in the White House that if they do not live up to their commitments...the Iranian government will firmly react," Rouhani said in a speech.
"If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences," Rouhani told a cheering crowd of thousands gathered in the city of Tabriz. "Iran is prepared for all possible situations," he added.
During a nuclear non-proliferation conference in Geneva earlier this year, Russia and China submitted a statement voicing "unwavering" support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran deal's official name) which was signed in 2015 by Iran along with the US, France, the UK, Russia, China and Germany.
French President Emmanuel Macron is preparing one last desperate plea to convince Trump to stay in the Iran nuclear deal during a lavish state dinner at the White House Tuesday - but experts quoted by CNN believe Macron would "have to pull a rabbit out of his hat" to persuade President Trump - who has surrounded himself with Iran hawks like Defense Secretary James Mattis, National Security Advisor John Bolton and CIA Director and Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo - to stay in the deal after the US's self-imposed May 12 deadline.
Already, Iran is bracing for further deterioration in relations with the US by announcing earlier this month that it would stop reporting foreign trade in dollars, and would use euros instead. Of course, scrapping the Iran deal would also have implications for commodity markets: Iran's oil export and output increased by approximately one million barrels per day after sanctions were dropped, with the bulk of Iran's output now going to those countries who are most vocal about keeping the Iranian deal in place.