Vienna [Austria]: Iran on Friday warned that the diplomatic meeting in Vienna among the remaining signatories of the embattled 2015 nuclear deal may be the “last chance” to save the historic accord.
Officials from the deal’s remaining signatories, including China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Iran and the European Union, held talks in the Austrian capital on Friday after Tehran had warned that it would soon breach the limit of producing low-enriched uranium mandated by the nuclear agreement, Al Jazeera reported.
“It was a step forward, but it is still not enough and not meeting Iran’s expectations,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi told reporters here.
“I don’t think the progress made today will be enough to stop our process but the decision will be made in Tehran,” he added.
The meeting took place amid growing concern that the deal could collapse, a year after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord, which limits Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for relief from sanctions.
After pulling out, Washington reimposed sanctions on Tehran and called for Iranian oil exports to be reduced to zero as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran, which has dramatically reduced Iran’s oil exports.
In addition to the stockpile limit, Iran has said that in early July it will start to enrich uranium above the 3.67 per cent cap agreed in the deal.
Meanwhile, in a statement on Friday, the EU said Germany, France and the UK have set up a special trade channel with Iran that aims to circumvent US sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
China’s delegate at the talks, Fu Cong, said Beijing would continue to import Iranian oil despite Washington’s sanctions on Tehran.
“We reject the unilateral imposition of sanctions,” he stressed.
“For us, energy security is important and the importation of Iranian oil is important to Chinese energy security and also the livelihood of the people,” Cong was quoted as saying.
He added that the meeting was “conducive to easing tensions in the region”, referring to sabre-rattling between Washington and Tehran in the Gulf.
Concern about a possible confrontation in the region escalated sharply last week when Iran shot down a US unmanned drone, which Tehran said was in its airspace. The US said it was downed in international airspace. US President Donald Trump ordered retaliatory attacks on Iran but later cancelled them, saying they would not have been proportional.
It was the latest in a series of escalatory events in the Gulf region in recent weeks, including alleged attacks on tankers which the US has blamed on Iran, despite Tehran’s denials.