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EghtesadOnline: The European Union has intensified efforts to rescue the 2015 nuclear deal following Iran's latest and final move away from its commitments, which coincided with a dramatic escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington.

European foreign ministers were expected to discuss the Iran crisis at an emergency meeting in Brussels on Friday.

Several EU officials also held phone conversations with President Hassan Rouhani over the past week to discuss the issue, according to Financial Tribune.

EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, has also invited Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to Brussels for talks, but a date for his visit has yet to be set amid a frenzy of diplomatic activity, Euronews reported. 

The nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has been fraying since the United States pulled out in May 2018 and reimposed severe sanctions on Tehran. 

Iran also began to reduce its compliance last May as the remaining parties, especially Europe, failed to compensate the economic benefits promised by the nuclear deal. 

In the fifth and final step of its JCPOA commitment rollback on Sunday, Iran announced that it would no longer recognize any limitation on its peaceful nuclear activity, but will fully continue to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

Friction between Tehran and Washington reached a critical point after the US assassinated the Iranian top commander, Martyr Major General Qasem Soleimani, in the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Jan. 3 on the order of US President Donald Trump and Iran responded on Wednesday by firing missiles at US military bases involved in the assassination.

The tit-for-tat moves raised fears of a military confrontation between the two traditional arch foes, although US President Donald Trump's speech on Wednesday signaled a relative easing of the situation. 

Despite refraining from military reprisal, Trump threatened to impose more sanctions on Iran and urged JCPOA signatories to "break away" from the deal. 



Borrell’s Mission 

The EU, however, has said it "will spare no effort" in its attempts to keep the nuclear deal alive, according to Euronews. 

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Borrell will continue to work "in the midterm" to reach out to all participants in the global deal in the hopes of saving the agreement.

"The use of weapons must stop now to give space for dialogue. We are called upon to do everything possible to rekindle talks. There cannot be enough of that," she said on Wednesday. 

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, stressed in a phone conversation with Rouhani that JCPOA was "the outcome of 10 years of negotiations" and the EU will do all in its power to save it. 

Rouhani urged the EU to adopt an independent approach toward Iran from that of the US so that Iran will not be disappointed with Europe. 

"It is very important to us that Europe, China and Russia play their role in preserving JCPOA so that Iran's interests are guaranteed," he was quoted as saying by  

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also had a phone conversation with Rouhani in which he stressed that JCPOA was the "best arrangement available". 

"The prime minister underlined the UK's continued commitment to JCPOA and to ongoing dialogue to reduce tensions," Johnson’s spokesman said on Thursday.


Eu Rescue JCPOA Iran commitments European Union nuclear deal tensions Efforts salvage escalation