U.S. President Donald Trump on May 9 warned Iran not to resume its nuclear program, a day after announcing that America was leaving a landmark nuclear deal between world powers and Tehran.
"I would advise Iran not to start their nuclear program," Trump said ahead of a cabinet meeting. "I would advise them very strongly. If they do, there will be very severe consequences."
Trump's warning came after announcing on May 8 that he was withdrawing the United States from the accord and was immediately restoring strict sanctions.
The 2015 agreement, worked out with Iran by the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, Germany, and the European Union, lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for Tehran limiting its nuclear program. The pact, designed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb, has been strongly criticized by Trump, who called it "a horrible one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made."
Tehran reacted with fury on May 9 to Trump's decision, with parliament speaker Ali Larijani urging Iran's nuclear department to prepare for "resumption of all aspects of nuclear activities," and Iranian lawmakers setting a paper U.S. flag on fire and shouting, "Death to America!"
"Trump's abandoning of the nuclear deal was a diplomatic show.... Iran has no obligation to honor its commitments under the current situation," Larijani told parliament on May 9. "It is obvious that Trump only understands the language of force."
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Trump "made a mistake," according to his official website. Khamenei has final say on all state matters.
Larijani said responsibility for saving the deal fell on the European Union and other world powers still in the accord, while European governments scrambled to salvage the agreement.
France's President Emmanuel Macron also said May 9 that Trump's decision was a "mistake."
"I regret the decision of the American president. I think it's a mistake and that's why we Europeans have decided to remain in the nuclear agreement of 2015," Macron told German broadcasters ARD and Deutsche Welle, in remarks released by the French presidency.
"I had the chance to tell President [Hassan] Rohani that just now," Macron said, referring to a phone call with the Iranian leader.
Iranian media quoted Rohani as telling Macron that Europe has a "limited opportunity" to preserve the nuclear deal.
"Under the current conditions, Europe has a very limited opportunity to preserve the nuclear deal, and must, as quickly as possible, clarify its position and specify and announce its intentions with regard to its obligations," ISNA quoted Rohani as telling Macron in the phone call.
Earlier, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the Iranian nuclear accord was "not dead," despite the U.S. withdrawal.
He told France's RTL radio on May 9 that "the risks of confrontation are real" after Trump's decision to pull out of the landmark agreement.
Le Drian said that "we are ready to work on a widened accord" that would address Trump's concerns about the 2015 deal aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Berlin remained committed to the Iran nuclear deal and urged Tehran to stick to its commitments under the agreement.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the U.S. decision showed Europe will face increasing responsibility to secure peace and seek political solutions to conflicts.
Merkel underlined the commitment of Germany, France, and Britain to stick with the accord.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told Parliament on May 9 that he had no problem with Trump's goal for a lasting solution to Iran's nuclear threat, but added, "The question is: How does the U.S. propose to achieve it?"
Johnson said his country "has no intention of walking away" from the deal, which London, he said, believes is working to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was deeply concerned over the U.S. decision, the RIA Novosti news agency quoted a Kremlin spokesman as saying on May 9.
The head of the UN nuclear watchdog said Iran was abiding by the agreement.
In a statement on May 9, Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that "as of today, the IAEA can confirm that the nuclear-related commitments are being implemented by Iran."
Top U.S. officials were already working to stymie efforts by European powers to go ahead with business deals they undertook when sanctions on Iran were lifted in 2016.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he was revoking the licenses not only for the sale of hundreds of passenger planes to Iran by the U.S. aircraft giant Boeing, but by Europe's Airbus plane manufacturer as well.
IranAir had ordered 200 passenger aircraft: 100 from Airbus, 80 from Boeing, and 20 from Franco-Italian turboprop maker ATR. All the deals are dependent on U.S. licenses because of the heavy use of U.S. parts in commercial planes.
The Treasury Department also gave other companies that are doing business with Iran 90 to 180 days to wind down their existing contracts, in a far-reaching order that has the potential to affect major global companies, including General Electric, Volkswagen, Total, Peugeot Citroen, British Airways, Accor, and Lufthansa.
Meanwhile, the newly appointed U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, advised German companies doing business with Iran to "wind down operations immediately" in a post on Twitter.
"U.S. sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy. German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately," he wrote.
Germany is one of Iran's largest trading partners, with German exports to Iran hitting some 2.6 billion euros ($3.1 billion) in 2016, up 26 percent from the previous year, according to the Finance Ministry in Berlin.