BEIJING: China on Monday said "unilateral bullying" by the United States was the cause behind the escalating Iran nuclear crisis, after Tehran announced it was set to breach its uranium enrichment cap.
"The facts show that unilateral bullying has already become a worsening tumour," said Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang at a press briefing in Beijing.
"The maximum pressure exerted by the US on Iran is the root cause of the Iranian nuclear crisis," he said.
Iran to begin enriching uranium beyond 3.67% 'in a few hours': official
Geng said China has expressed "regret" for Tehran's decision to reduce its fulfilment of the Iran nuclear deal.
Iran warned European countries on Monday against any escalatory response to its move to breach the uranium enrichment cap set by a landmark 2015 nuclear deal.
If European parties to the agreement "do certain strange acts then we would skip all the next steps (in the plan to scale back commitments) and implement the last one," foreign ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi said.
He did not specify what the final step would be.
The Islamic Republic threatened on Sunday to abandon more commitments to an endangered 2015 nuclear deal unless a solution is found with the remaining parties after the US pulled out.
The 2015 deal was reached between Iran and six world powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, the United States and Russia - and saw Tehran agree to drastically scale down its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.
Washington began reimposing sanctions on Iran in August 2018 and has targeted crucial sectors including oil exports and the banking system, fuelling a deep recession.
Tehran's move to start enriching uranium above the maximum purification level has already drawn opposition from countries backing the nuclear deal.
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Asked if Tehran could withdraw entirely from the deal, Mousavi said "all the options" were possible but "no decision has been taken".
France, Germany and Britain - the remaining Europeans partners of the international deal - have urged Tehran to halt its advance towards breaching the cap.
But Iran says it has lost patience with a perceived lack of action by the European side to help Tehran economically in the face of crippling US sanctions.