REG Zarif web-1567774771222
Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, left, talks to journalist during a joint press conference with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi, right, after their meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, Sept. 6, 2019 Image Credit: AP

Jakarta, Indonesia: The European Union on Friday expressed concern about Iran’s plan to defy provisions of the agreement and urged the Islamic Republic to step back from the brink.

European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said Friday that the EU notes “with great concern the announcement made by Iran.”

“We urge Iran to reverse all activities that are inconsistent with its commitments” under the accord and to “refrain from any further measures that undermine the preservation and full implementation of the nuclear deal,” she said.

Also Friday, German Foreign Ministry spokesman Rainer Breul said Iran was not sending the “right statement” with its announcement and urged Tehran “not to exacerbate the situation.”

“The German government will carefully examine which individual steps Iran takes,” he said. “It’s not too late for Iran to leave the slope it has put itself on.”

Iran’s foreign minister defended his country’s plan to take further steps away from the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers if Europe fails to provide a solution on reviving it by a deadline that expired Friday.

The remarks by Mohammad Javad Zarif came as Iran is poised to begin work on advanced centrifuges that will enrich uranium faster as the nuclear deal unravels.

The crisis stems from President Donald Trump’s pullout from the accord over a year ago and the imposition of escalated US sanctions on Tehran that have choked off Iran’s ability to sell its crude oil abroad, a crucial source of government revenue, and sent its economy into freefall.

On his part, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Friday that it appeared Iran was inching toward a place where talks could be held, days after US President Donald Trump left the door open to a possible meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Esper said it was “in light of some of the comments made by the Iranians in the wake of the G7.” He added: “’Inching’ is subtle movements and I think that’s a good thing.”