The European powers and the United States on Thursday warned Iran that it would be “dangerous” to impose a threatened limit on inspections by the UN Nuclear Agency, warning that such a move could ruin the chance of a landmark 2015 deal to revive via its nuclear drive.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian hosted his German and British counterparts in Paris. New US Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined via videoconference to discuss how to revive an agreement that was dying from the withdrawal of former President Donald Trump in 2018.
Analysts say there is only a small window of time left to save business as Tehran steps up its nuclear work in retaliation against reintroducing sanctions after the US strike.
A French diplomatic source, asking not to be named, said an important step forward was that the United States was ready to hold talks with Iran so that Tehran could return to full compliance with the deal.
However, the extremely sensitive diplomatic process could be derailed by an Iranian threat to curtail some inspections by the UN nuclear agency until February 21 if the US does not lift sanctions.
The joint statement called on Iran to examine the consequences of such severe measures, especially at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunities.
President Joe Biden’s administration has said it is ready to rejoin the deal and begin lifting sanctions if Iran – whose economy has been devastated – fully complies again.
Tehran rejected this requirement, however, and continued increasing nuclear work in retaliation for Trump’s so-called “maximum pressure” sanctions policy to weaken the Iranian regime, which has had no ties with Washington for four decades.
– ‘Start a discussion’ –
The statement said Blinken reiterated that the United States will do the same if “Iran again strictly adheres to its obligations under the nuclear agreement” and is ready to hold talks with Iran to that end. “
The French diplomatic source admitted that the agreement was “less implemented than ever” but said there was now a common consensus of all parties on the goal of the process.
“The Americans say it has to start with a discussion,” the source told the Iranians.
The United States and Iran have not had diplomatic relations for four decades, but they did have ties to the 2015 nuclear deal.
However, the Paris meeting did not appear to offer Iran a concession, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared unfazed.
He tweeted: “Instead of being sophistic and incriminating Iran, the E3 / EU must meet its own commitments and demand an end to Trump’s legacy of economic terrorism against Iran.”
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) signed in Vienna in 2015 was based on Iran accepting protective measures to prevent the development of a nuclear bomb in exchange for a gradual relaxation of international sanctions.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, will travel to Tehran on Saturday for talks with the Iranian authorities to find a solution for the continuation of the inspections in the country.
“The Iranian nuclear program is growing day by day as the time it takes to enrich enough uranium for a single nuclear weapon is decreasing,” said Ali Vaez, Iranian project leader at the International Crisis Group (ICG).
The powers that be also expressed concern over recent measures by Iran to produce up to 20 percent enriched uranium and uranium metal.
“These activities have no credible civil justification,” the statement said.
Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas previously said that Iran’s recent moves threaten the prospect of a US return to the deal and warn that Iran is “playing with fire”.
– ‘Solution to the Dilemma’ –
While Iranian politics will ultimately be determined by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Iranian presidential election in June will add another time pressure factor.
Rouhani – a major proponent of nuclear diplomacy with global powers – will step down after the maximum two consecutive terms, and a tougher number will likely replace him.
Vaez said that “the seemingly impossible dilemma has a solution” if both sides were willing to take “closely synchronized steps”.
That would mean Washington undoing Trump’s 2018 withdrawal and green-lighting an Iranian application for an IMF emergency loan while Iran freezes “the most problematic aspects” of its nuclear program, he said.
Ellie Geranmayeh, Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said Washington should use this “short window of opportunity” to show Iran that the Biden administration is “distancing itself from the maximum pressures of the Trump era.”
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)