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Tehran is 'playing with fire' says Germany

February 18, 2021

Speaking ahead of meetings to salvage a deal limiting Iran's nuclear program, Heiko Maas said Tehran had "not been pushing for reduced tensions, but for escalation."

Heiko Mass speaks at UN
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas fears Iran "is playing with fire" and worries that Tehran is escalating tensions as European and US negotiators seek to find a new compromise.Image: Getty Images/AFP/T.A. Clary

Hours before a summit between Britain, France, Germany and the US intended to rescue a 2015 international agreement designed to curtail to Iran's nuclear ambitions, leaders fear escalating rhetoric from Tehran could sink hopes of an accord.

Ahead of the talks, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that Iran was "playing with fire," and that its most recent steps risked discouraging the US from returning to the so-called "Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action" (JCPoA). 

The deal has nearly fallen apart since former US president Donald Trump pulled his country out of it in 2018 and then reimposed sanctions on Iran.

"What's important now, is supporting the United States on the path back towards the accord," Maas said. However, Maas also said that the deal's attempted resuscitation following Joe Biden's inauguration "is complicated quite considerably by Iran seemingly not pushing for reduced tensions, but rather for escalation." 

The meeting in Paris comes after Iran threatened to start restricting the access of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to its facilities unless the US lifted economic sanctions against the country.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian hosted his German and British counterparts in Paris, with America's new Secretary of State Antony Blinken joining via videoconference. 

EU's Michel speaks with Rouhani

European Council President Charles Michel later telephoned Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, the results of which he tweeted out.

"The EU supports the full implementation of the #JCPOA Preserving a space for diplomacy, underpinned by positive steps, is crucial at this stage."

The European Council released a summary following the conversation, reiterating the importance that the EU attaches to the full implementation of the JCPoA in the context of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture.

Michel expressed "concern" over actions which he said "constituted a departure from Iran's commitments under the Agreement," including the decision to suspend the Additional Protocol.

In the summary, the Coucil stated its desire "to facilitate the full implementation of the JCPoA" as well as returning the US to the agreement.

"Global peace, security and economic development can only be achieved through multilateral action," said the European Council.

mb/msh (dpa, AFP)