EU foreign policy chief to visit Iran amid regional tensions | News | DW | 02.02.2020
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EU foreign policy chief to visit Iran amid regional tensions

Josep Borrell's first visit to Tehran comes as the nuclear deal is on life support. European signatories and Iran are still locked in negotiations over Iran's non-compliance with the deal's core elements.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell

Borrell says the JCPOA is essential to preserving stability in the Middle East

The EU's new foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, will meet with Iranian leaders on Monday, as the EU seeks to salvage the tattered 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

The meeting comes amid a policy split between European signatories to the nuclear deal and the US. The US dropped out of the accord, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and reimposed sanctions on Iran in August 2019. 

Tehran has responded by rolling back its commitments to the deal's core elements, which include capping uranium enrichment. On January 6, Iran said that it would no longer adhere to its obligations under the deal and continue its nuclear program "without limitation." 

This prompted Britain, France and Germany to engage the deal's dispute resolution mechanism on January 14. If no solution is found, Iran could face the reimposition of UN sanctions.

EU nuclear diplomacy

The EU serves as guarantor of the JCPOA, and Borrell has a formal role in the dispute resolution process.

Borrell told the European Parliament on January 14, following the US military strike that killed Iranian Revolutionary Guard General Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, that the JCPOA was crucial for regional security. 

"Imagine for a second what would be the situation today if Iran had nuclear weapons. And they would have been able to obtain those without the JCPOA," he said. 

On January 16, Borrell met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in New Delhi to discuss preserving the deal. 

Iran's nuclear program

EU committed to de-escalation 

The EU's foreign affairs arm, the European External Action Service (EEAS), said in a statement Sunday that Borrell's meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif would be an opportunity to convey "strong commitment" by the EU to preserve the deal. 

An External Action Service spokesperson would not comment to DW on the specific policy details up for discussion.

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The EEAS statement said that Borrell had received a "strong mandate" from EU foreign ministers to "de-escalate tensions and seek opportunities for political solutions to the current crisis." 

wmr/aw (AP, Reuters, dpa, AFP)