Days after US president Donald Trump reiterated threats to end his commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an international accord struck by China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the US, Germany and the European Union that limits Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for slackened sanctions, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday warned that his country would shred its multinational nuclear deal should the US decide to quit.
"JCPOA serves their interests; but, we will not tear up the deal before the other party does: if they tear up JCPOA, we shred it," Khamenei told a gathering of academics in a speech relayed on his official website.
The Iranian supreme leader even criticised Europe's weak defence of the landmark agreement.
Khamenei even accused the US president of taking a nonsensical approach towards the deal, which was struck by Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, but also called on the JCPOA's European signatories to step up their opposition to Washington's threats.
"Europe's emphasis on maintaining the nuclear agreement is simply not enough," he said, adding: "We do not think it is acceptable for the Europeans to join America in its bullying."
The US has singled out Tehran's ongoing ballistic missile programme as a cause of strain on the nuclear deal, although Iran has repeatedly insisted that its programme was not in breach of the international agreement and that it only served to bolster the country's self-defence capabilities.
In a press conference last week, Trump announced that he had authorised the US Treasury to draw up fresh sanctions against Iran's Revolutionary Guard, a branch of the armed forces with close links to the theocratic elite.
Khamenei, who has held the highest office of Iranian power for almost three decades, suggested that the Trump administration was maddened by the fact that Iran had managed to "foil US plots in Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt."
Trump has previously branded Iran as a supporter of global terrorism.
Iran's Shiite leadership holds considerable influence over a vast array of sectarian paramilitaries in war zones across the Middle East, from the Popular Mobilisation Forces in Iraq to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
- With IANS inputs