Iran's foreign minister was due to leave today for a whirlwind diplomatic tour as world leaders scramble to salvage something from the wreckage of a landmark nuclear deal in the wake of Washington's withdrawal.
Mohammad Javad Zarif's tour starts two days after unprecedented Israeli strikes in Syria which a monitor said killed at least 11 Iranian fighters, triggering fears of a broader conflict between the two arch-enemies.
Before leaving, Zarif published a government statement on his Twitter page, slamming the "extremist administration" of US President Donald Trump for abandoning "an accord recognised as a victory of diplomacy by the international community".
It reiterated that Iran was preparing to resume "industrial-scale" uranium enrichment "without any restrictions" unless Europe provided solid guarantees that it could maintain trade ties despite renewed US sanctions.
Zarif's delicate diplomatic mission was complicated by reports of clashes between Iranian and Israeli forces in Syria on Thursday.
The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said today that 11 Iranians were among the pro-regime fighters killed in strikes by Israel, which has vowed to prevent Iran gaining a military foothold in neighbouring Syria.
Tehran, which has sought to avoid an escalation in regional conflict that could alienate its European partners, has not commented on whether its forces were hit.
Iran denies that version of events, saying the Israeli strikes were launched on "invented pretexts".
Meanwhile, European diplomats in Tehran fumed that Trump's decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal could undermine years of patient work to restore commercial and diplomatic ties with the Islamic Republic.
"Since the signing of the JCPOA (nuclear deal), we have gone from an atmosphere like a gold rush, to one of utter depression," said a Western trade diplomat on condition of anonymity.
"We are waiting now for how the decision-makers in the European Union will react. If the EU leans towards accommodating the US, all the progress we have made since 2015 will be lost." But she emphasised that many of the problems began long before Trump's move last Tuesday.
"Decisions on the Iranian side took longer than expected, international banks were reluctant to work with Iran and the recent decline in the value of (Iran's currency) made international business even more difficult," she said.
Iranian hardliners -- who have long opposed President Hassan Rouhani's moves to improve ties with the West -- are already mobilising against the efforts to save the nuclear deal.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)