EghtesadOnline: The European Union said on Monday that it will consider Iran to be complying with its obligations under a global nuclear deal up until the point scientific evidence emerges that it has breached its commitments.
Hours after Tehran announced that it plans to surpass the uranium stockpile limit set by the 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers in the next 10 days, the EU's foreign policy chief said the 28-country bloc will continue to do what it can to ensure the agreement holds, AP reported.
Federica Mogherini said work is ongoing on putting in place "a mechanism that can allow the Iranians to benefit from the economic transactions that can legitimately take place".
The foundations of the nuclear agreement, which curbed Iran's nuclear activities in return for economic support, have grown weaker since US President Donald Trump pulled out of the accord last year and reimposed sanctions on Iran, according to Financial Tribune.
Britain, France and Germany have set up a special purpose vehicle called the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges or INSTEX, a conduit for non-dollar trade with Iran, in an effort to shield at least some of Iran's economy from sweeping US sanctions. However, it has yet to be launched.
Mogherini would not speculate what would happen if Tehran veers away from the terms of the multinational deal.
She said that "so far, Iran has been compliant with its nuclear commitment as we had expected it to be," and insisted she would await the next report on the issue from the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
"Our objective is to keep the nuclear deal in place … It is not easy and we have made no secret of that," Mogherini was quoted as saying by Aljazeera.
In May, Tehran announced a decision to reduce compliance with the nuclear pact, saying that it will stop selling unspent enriched uranium and heavy water—which is used in nuclear reactors—to other nations.
In addition, it warned that it will start enriching uranium at higher level unless the European signatories do their share of saving the agreement by protecting the Iranian economy from renewed US sanctions within 60 days.
Need for Dialogue
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday he regretted Iran's announcement that it would exceed the allowed enriched uranium limit, but that Paris would hold talks with Iran and its partners to avoid any further escalation in the region.
"I regret the Iranian announcements made today, but as the IAEA has underlined, Iran is respecting its commitments, and we strongly encourage it to be patient and responsible," Macron told a news conference alongside his Ukrainian counterpart, Reuters reported.
He said there is a window between now and July 8 for more dialogue to save the nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Tuesday that Moscow understands Iran's decision to increase production of enriched uranium and said US threats of using force against Tehran are a "clear violation of international law", IRNA reported.
The Chinese government's top diplomat, State Councilor Wang Yi, told reporters at a briefing on Tuesday that the nuclear agreement is the only feasible way to resolve Iran's nuclear issue and urged Iran to be prudent.
"We hope that Iran is cautious with its decision-making and not lightly abandon this agreement," he said, according to Reuters.
He also called on the United States to not use "extreme pressure" to resolve issues with Iran.
Speaking after Monday's meeting of European foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it is up to Iran to stick to the nuclear deal if it wants to avoid any further unspecified measures.
He said Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia are keeping their obligations under the nuclear deal and that it is "incumbent upon Iran to remain committed to its responsibilities".
"I have the impression that a lot is being threatened, by the way from both sides, and I don't see that as very constructive," he said.
Echoing a similar view, a spokesman for the British government said on Monday that Britain will look at all available options if Iran breaches its commitments around its nuclear activities.
"We have been clear about our concern at Iranian plans to reduce compliance with the JCPOA. Should Iran cease meeting its nuclear commitments, we would then look at all options available to us," he was quoted as telling reporters by Reuters.
The United States called Iran's plan to surpass the internationally agreed limit on its stock of low-enriched uranium "nuclear blackmail".
"President Trump has made it clear that he will never allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons. The regime's nuclear blackmail must be met with increased international pressure," White House National Security Council Spokesman Garrett Marquis said on Monday, according to Voice of America.
Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons, saying its atomic program is solely for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity and producing medical isotopes.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called on all the parties to the deal to respect it, Naharnet reported.
Guterres "encourages Iran to continue to implement its nuclear-related commitments and calls on all participants to abide fully by their respective commitments," his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Guterres maintains that the agreement "represents a major achievement in nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy" and has "contributed to regional and international peace and security", he added.