Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Iran Sets May 31 Deadline in Scramble to Salvage Nuclear Deal

Iran Sets May 31 Deadline in Scramble to Salvage Nuclear Deal

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Seyed Abbas Araqchi said the country has not made a decision whether to leave or stay in the 2015 nuclear agreement following the U.S. withdrawal from the global pact, also known as JCPOA. Senior officials from the other countries that signed the deal - France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and Iran - are meeting in Vienna on Friday to discuss next steps.

He said talks would continue over the next few weeks "particularly at an expert level", after which Iran would decide whether or not to stay in the accord.

It looks like Iran is open to keeping the nuclear deal alive.

"If the Europeans linger over our demands, Iran has the right to resume its nuclear activities", he said.

The 9th meeting of the JCPOA commission of the JCPOA was held in Vienna's Cobourg Hotel almost two weeks after United States unilateral withdrawal from the deal.

"Iran will never again have carte blanche to dominate the Middle East", he said in outlining the new United States strategy on handling the Islamic regime, including 12 tough conditions from Washington for any "new deal" with Tehran.

However, the diplomat said, Iran can go beyond its legal obligations by adopting certain measures such as inviting inspectors to the nuclear sites which they had not even demanded access to. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened Iran on Monday with "the strongest sanctions in history" if it did not change its behavior in the Middle East.

"We will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime", Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in his first major foreign policy address since moving to the State Department from the Central Intelligence Agency. Iran is also seeking some assurances that their oil will continue to be bought on the global market.

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First meeting on Iran nuclear deal without U.S. participation kicks off in Austrian capital of Vienna, where Iranian officials seek economic package from the Europeans if the 2015 nuclear accord is to be salvaged. "I'm sorry to say that we haven't (seen) the Plan B yet".

"We are working on a variety of measures to mitigate consequences of the U.S. withdrawal", the official, who did not want to be named, said while cautioning that "there are things that will take more time". In return, Iran agreed to curbs on its nuclear program.

The other nations have all said they want to stay in the 2015 deal, which limits Iran's enrichment and stockpiling of material that could be applied to a nuclear weapons programme.

Diplomats will also consider verification activities of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors, who reported on Thursday that Iran continues abiding by its commitments.

While European nations share those concerns, they have said that as long as Tehran meets its commitments, they would remain in the deal.

"We believe Iran's economy is attractive enough to bring companies and banks and businesses into Iran", he said.

Araqchi will take part in the JCPOA joint commission meeting scheduled to be held later in the day.

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