Beijing has accused the US of "unilateral bullying" that "has become a worsening tumour", saying this is responsible for the situation with Iran, who continues to backtrack on its commitments under the 2015 deal, signed to ensure the peaceful nature of the country's nuclear programme.
"The maximum pressure exerted by the US on Iran is the root cause of the Iranian nuclear crisis", Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.
At the same time, Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi has warned the European signatories to the nuclear deal against taking retaliatory steps in light of the country's decision to cease some of its commitments under the accord. Mousavi explained that if these countries "do certain strange acts", Iran will implement the "last" step in its plan of gradual withdrawal from the commitments under the nuclear deal skipping others. Mousavi didn't elaborate what the "last" step would look like.
The ministry's spokesman further stated that the country is open to negotiations, but remains sceptical of possible diplomatic success.
"We have no hope nor trust in anyone, nor any country but the door of diplomacy is open", Mousavi said.
His statements come in the wake of Tehran's announcement on 8 July that it had started enriching uranium beyond the 3.67% restriction, imposed by the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal. Last week the country announced that its low-enriched uranium stockpiles exceeded the 300-kilogram limit, also set by the JCPOA, as part of its strategy to gradually backtrack on its commitments under the accord until the European signatories to the deal find a way to protect the country from US sanctions.
The European Union has expressed concern over Tehran's decisions and called on it to stop violating the JCPOA and continue adhering to it. France, Germany, and the UK called on Iran to reverse all steps aimed at "undermining" the JCPOA. Another signatory to the nuclear deal, Russia has urged Iran to refrain from further "complicating the situation" with the JCPOA. For its part, the US, whose actions triggered the “nuclear crisis”, has threatened Iran with more "isolation and sanctions".
The strategy of gradual reduction in the commitments under the JCPOA was first announced by Tehran on the first anniversary of the US unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal on 8 May 2018. American President Donald Trump has called the deal "flawed" arguing that a new and "better" one should be negotiated.
Following the withdrawal, Washington imposed hefty sanctions on the Iranian energy, banking and shipping sectors, which were recently extended to include the country's supreme leader Ali Khamenei and those closest to him. The EU came up with an INSTAX mechanism to protect European companies from being slapped with American sanctions for working with Iran, but the Islamic Republic has argued that this is insufficient since its oil trade remains affected.