Code: 696648 A

Iran’s nuclear chief said on Tuesday that he was warning the European Union’s top diplomat that Iranian patience was running out on the bloc’s pledges to keep up oil trade despite US sanctions.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the Islamic Republic could resume enriching uranium to 20 percent purity--seen as well above the level suitable for fuelling civilian power plants--if it fails to see the economic benefit of the 2015 deal that curbed its nuclear program, Reuters reported.

“If we cannot sell our oil and we don’t enjoy financial transactions, then I don’t think keeping the deal will benefit us anymore,” Salehi told Reuters ahead of a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini in Brussels.

“I will pass certainly a word of caution to her (Mogherini): I think the period of patience for our people is getting more limited and limited. We are running out of the assumed timeline, which was in terms of months.”

Following the meeting, Mogherini said she and Salehi remained committed to safeguarding the nuclear accord.

“They equally expressed their determination to preserve the nuclear agreement as a matter of respecting international agreements and a key pillar for European and regional security,” Mogherini’s office said in a statement.

It said Mogherini also repeated the EU stance “on issues of concern such as Iran’s role in the region” - alluding to Iranian involvement in Middle East conflicts from Yemen to Syria.

In Brussels for talks on civilian nuclear cooperation that EU officials intended as a signal support for the accord, Salehi said the bloc’s efforts were encouraging but added: “We have not yet seen any tangible results.”

He welcomed an EU plan to establish a special financial vehicle for non-dollar trade with Iran but only if it could preserve Iranian oil exports - Tehran’s economic lifeline.

“It (the SPV) could be helpful in keeping the deal alive,” he said. “If there is nothing to reap, then what is the purpose of us staying in because voices in Iran are day by day becoming more against the deal.”

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