On Friday, January 3, a US drone strike killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani – triggering outrage and calls for retaliation from Iran. Elsewhere world leaders called for de-escalations following the assassination Donald Trump sanctioned.
Soleimani was regarded as the second-most important person in Iran, behind only Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah.
Now Iran has said it will not be respecting the restrictions laid out in the 2015 nuclear accord.
A statement released on Sunday said: “Iran will continue its nuclear enrichment with no limitations and based on its technical needs.”
The head of the European Commission said on Monday that Iran must comply with the 2015 nuclear deal adding her voice to international calls for Iran to help salvage the pact that US President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement: “We are deeply concerned by Iran’s announcement that it will not respect the limit set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) any longer,”
“From a European viewpoint, it is important for Iran to return to the nuclear deal.
“We have to convince Iran that it’s also in its own interest.”
Ms Von der Leyen confirmed EU foreign ministers will hold a special session on Friday.
Is World War 3 about to happen?
All eyes are on the promised retaliation from Iran, who has vowed “severe revenge” against the US.
Many fear this could be the start of another world war – World War 3 with the hashtags #WW3 and #WorldWar3 trending on Twitter shortly after Soleimani’s death was announced.
Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington said: “Iran has no choice but to strike back and retaliate for the assassination of Major General Soleimani.
“But the Islamic Republic is patient and the timing and nature of that strike is not yet known to us.”
US President Donald Trump has published a series of tweets following Iran’s decision to not respect the 2015 accord.
In his tweets, he spoke of the US military being “by far the BEST in the World” and vowing to return any attack Iran made against the US.
Mr Trump wrote: “The United States just spent Two Trillion Dollars on Military Equipment.
“We are the biggest and by far the BEST in the World!
“If Iran attacks an American Base or any American, we will be sending some of that brand new beautiful equipment their way…and without hesitation!”
He later tweeted: “They [Iran] attacked us, & we hit back.
“If they attack again, which I would strongly advise them not to do, we will hit them harder than they have ever been hit before!”
He also tweeted in entirely capital letters: “IRAN WILL NEVER HAVE A NUCLEAR WEAPON!”
Will there be another war?
Allies of both Iran and the US have weighed in on the conflict, calling for a de-escalation.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab became the latest Government figure to distance the UK from US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that Iranian cultural sites could be targeted.
He said: “We have been very clear that cultural sites are protected under international law and we would expect that to be respected.”
Speaking after a meeting of senior ministers to discuss the crisis, Mr Raab said: “Clearly our first priority is to make sure that UK nationals, citizens, shipping, diplomatic missions and military personnel are safe.
“We’ve changed our travel advice, we are going to be reinforcing in due course the Royal Navy protection for shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
“On a diplomatic front our overwhelming message that the Prime Minister and I are conveying to our European and American counterparts, and also critically our partners in the Middle East, is the importance of deescalating the tensions and finding a diplomatic way through this crisis.”
However, Mr Trump has been adamant the US took action to “stop a war”, not to start one.
However Iranian general Esmail Ghaani, who has taken Soleimani’s place as head of Iran’s Quds Force, has stated Iran will be taking “actions” against the US as revenge for the death of Soleimani.
Ghaani told Iranian state television on Monday: “God the almighty has promised to get his revenge, and God is the main avenger. Certainly, actions will be taken.”