Amid uncertainty, parties to Iran’s nuclear deal to try to avoid tensions

VIENNA, Austria (AFP) – The remaining parties of the 2015 nuclear deal met Iran on Wednesday after Tehran announced plans for a new breach of the treaty, and as uncertainty rules ahead for the US President SA Joe Biden in January.

The so-called “joint commission” meeting included China, France, Russia, Iran, Germany and Britain and Helga Schmid was the EU’s chief foreign officer.

The meeting, which began at 11am local time, was almost entirely due to a pandemic coronavirus infection.

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The 2015 contract, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), has steadily declined since US President Donald Trump pulled out in 2018 and went on to control put tough economic bonds on Iran.

Tehran has retaliated by omitting limits on its nuclear activity enshrined in the treaty, recently planning to install advanced centrifuges at Iran’s main nuclear enrichment plant in Natanz.

Iran’s uranium conversion facility near Isfahan, which recycles uranium ore into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment, March 30, 2005. ( AP / Vahid Salemi)

Last week France, Germany and Britain – known as the “E3” – criticized the plan as “very worrying”. ”

Meanwhile last month’s assassination of the famous Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh – who the US and Israel have long seen as the leader of an Iranian nuclear weapons program – has escalated tensions in the region, with Iran blaming Israel on the killings.

Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in an undated photograph. (With permission)

In the wake of Fakhrizadeh’s death, Iran’s MP introduced a bill calling for further expansion of Iran’s nuclear program and completion of studies on nuclear facilities by the DA’s international atomic energy watchdog (IAEA).

Iran’s foreign ministry said it did not agree with the bill and President Hassan Rouhani has suggested he not sign the law.

Rouhani has resisted criticism from Iran’s ultra-conservatives for his determination to seize the “opportunity” provided by the U.S. presidential election in January.

‘Not the best time’

Rouhani has said Iran is ready to come back to the treaty as soon as other parties deliver on their promises.

Biden has said he is willing to return to the deal but has not revealed much else about the upcoming U.S. strategy on the issue.

Before talks began on Wednesday, Russia’s ambassador to Vienna international agencies, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that the focus would be on “how to maintain the nuclear deal and ensure its implementation. completely and fairly. “

“Career [the] It is inevitable that the USA will be discussed in this regard, ”he said.

Abbas Araghchi (Center R), Political Deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, and Helga Schmid (Center L), Secretary General of the EU External Action Service (EEAS), will take part in a meeting of the Joint Commission Joint Commission Action Plan (JCPOA) attended by China, France, Germany, Russia, UK and Iran on 28 July 2019 at the Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria. (ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Another diplomat said that he would prefer the meeting to be “an opportunity to tell the Iranians face to face to stop the breach of the treaty” and not to jeopardize the chances of their return to diplomacy under Biden. .

The meeting is not “coming at its best,” the diplomat admitted, adding to the uncertainty surrounding possible developments between now and Biden’s founding on January 20.

Tensions between Tehran and the West have escalated in recent days when French-based Ruhollah Zam was executed in Iran, sparking global unrest.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks at a media conference in Brussels, 30 June 2020. (AP Photo / Virginia Mayo, Pool)

But despite the various sources of disruption, the diplomat said studies were continuing “as usual” on the ground.

On Monday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Wednesday’s meeting was “part of our work to keep the JCPOA alive.” “

A few days earlier he had stressed that the agreement was “the only way to avoid Iran becoming a nuclear power” and said a meeting of ministers from partners to the JCPOA would be called before Christmas.

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