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EU top diplomat presses Iran to preserve nuclear deal

January 16, 2020

The Iran nuclear deal is "more important than ever," the EU's foreign policy chief has told his Iranian counterpart in a "frank dialogue" over rising tensions in the Middle East.

Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facility
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/V. Salemi,

The European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in New Delhi, India, on Thursday to discuss an increasingly fragile multi-national nuclear deal, struck with Iran in 2015.

Iran recently reiterated it is scaling back compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear pact in response to the US decision to kill Iran's top military general, Qassem Soleimani, by drone strike.

In a statement released by the EU on Thursday about the meeting, Borrell is said to have urged Zarif in a "frank discussion" to preserve the pact as well as warning that the deal "was more important than ever" given the rising tensions in the region.

Borrell also "underlined the continued interest of the European Union to preserve the agreement." The US, under President Donald Trump, withdrew from the pact in 2018 and imposed fresh sanctions on Irancausing the Iranian economy to sink into recession. 

The meeting between Borrell and Zarif took place during the ongoing Raisina Dialogue 2020 in India and both sides agreed to remain in "close touch" over JCPOA developments.

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European powers could implement sanctions for leverage

The meeting came after European powers France, Germany and the UK earlier this week launched a dispute mechanism over Iran's pullback from the terms of the deal.

Zarif tweeted on Thursday that the EU had "sold out" what remains of the nuclear deal to avoid new US tariffs on European exports and on Wednesday questioned how the EU could allow itself to be "bullied" by Washington.

Iran has been threatening to break the terms of the JCPOA ever since US sanctions were reinstated, beginning a program of nuclear enrichment that could eventually lead to the development of nuclear weapons.

kmm/rt (Reuters, AFP)

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