Vienna – Senior diplomats from five major powers met Iranian counterparts in Vienna on Friday in an attempt to stop Tehran from abandoning their joint nuclear deal.
The meeting was also held to de-escalate tensions between Iran and the United States.
The United States walked away from the 2015 pact last year and revived sanctions that target the Islamic Republic’s oil exports.
Iran said in May that it would gradually exit the 2015 deal, by breaking certain limits on uranium enrichment this week and in early July that were designed to prevent the development of a nuclear warhead.
However, an Iranian official said hours before the Vienna meeting that the first of the two limits, which regulates how much uranium can be stocked, has not yet been surpassed.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said that ‘there is always a last minute chance’ for diplomacy.
However, the official also warned that Iran would reconsider its currently peaceful nuclear policy.
Iran would also take steps to leave the global Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in case the UN Security Council punishes Iran for exiting the 2015 pact.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqhchi told Iranian reporters that Britain, Germany and France should present concrete plans to mitigate US sanctions on Friday.
‘Otherwise, we will definitely reduce our commitments under the nuclear deal,’ he said in Vienna.
European powers are expected to promote their so-called Instex scheme, a planned barter system for European-Iranian trade that is meant to avoid US sanctions.
However, Instex is not yet operational, and it is unlikely to revive Iran’s oil exports. Companies with business in the US fear that any contracts with Iran would make them a target of Washington’s punitive measures.
Tensions between Washington and Tehran came to a head in recent days, when President Donald Trump came close to ordering an airstrike in retaliation against Iran’s downing of a US drone.
However, Trump has been sending mixed messages, indicating he is also willing to hold talks with Tehran.
Trump said in Japan on Friday that he was under no time pressure or rush to deal with Iran, while expressing hope for a positive outcome, following an intense escalation in tensions between the two countries.
‘There is absolutely no time pressure. I think that in the end hopefully it’s going to work out,’ Trump said on the sidelines of the G20 summit of major economies in Osaka.
“If it does, great, if it doesn’t, you’ll be hearing about it,” he added.
The Iranian official said that Washington should enter into a ‘ceasefire’ in its economic war against Tehran if it wanted to enter into diplomatic talks.
“If you are under bombardment, you don’t go for negotiations. Because if you go, it’s not a negotiation, its surrender,” the official said. (dpa/NAN)