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“US Playing with Fire”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Monday that the United States is “playing with fire,” as the two sides are locked in a standoff.

The United States quit an international deal on Iran’s nuclear program last year, hitting Tehran with crippling sanctions.

Tensions have since soared, with the US calling off air strikes against Iran at the last minute after Tehran downed an American drone, and Washington blaming the Islamic republic for a series of attacks on tanker ships.

“I think the United States is playing with fire,” Zarif told NBC News.

Iran announced last week that it had enriched uranium past the 3.67 percent limit set by the nuclear deal, and has also surpassed the 300-kilogram cap on enriched uranium reserves in response for US’ unilateral withdrawal and imposing sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Tehran’s move was also aimed at urging European parties of the deal to abide by the accord and stop delays to implement a trade channel -with Iran- that bypasses US sanctions.

But “it can be reversed within hours,” Zarif told the channel, adding: “We are not about to develop nuclear weapons. Had we wanted to develop nuclear weapons, we would have been able to do it (a) long time ago.”

Zarif’s comments came as the United States imposed unusually harsh restrictions on his movements during a visit to the United Nations.

Weeks after the United States threatened sanctions against Zarif, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Washington issued him a visa but forbade him from moving beyond six blocks of Iran’s UN mission in Midtown Manhattan.

“US diplomats don’t roam around Tehran, so we don’t see any reason for Iranian diplomats to roam freely around New York City, either,” Pompeo told The Washington Post.

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