Vienna – The UN’s nuclear watchdog will hold a special meeting on Iran on Wednesday, days after Tehran announced its second violation of the nuclear deal struck with world powers in 2015.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board of governors will hold talks starting at 2:30 p.m. (1230 GMT) in Vienna.
The meeting was called by the U.S., which has put enormous pressure on Iran since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the Obama-era deal that aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.
Iran announced it had deliberately breached two key aspects of the accord in response to the sanctions reinstated by Trump.
Tehran is now enriching uranium beyond the level that had been agreed to in the deal, while also increasing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium above the limit set out.
The violations are intended to compel European signatories to step up efforts to help Iran’s sanctions-hit economy or face the death of the deal that took years to negotiate.
But Washington is also exerting influence on European allies to be tougher on Iran.
The Trump administration argues the deal did not do enough to constrain Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes or check Tehran’s violent activities in the Middle East.
No major decisions are expected to be announced following the meeting in Vienna on Wednesday.
Tehran said it was glad the International Atomic Energy Agency was meeting, describing it as “a good opportunity for Iran to explain its position and challenge the parties that have failed to implement the nuclear deal.
“It’s black humour on the part of the U.S. to demand a meeting about an agreement from which they themselves left,” Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, told state news agency IRNA on Wednesday.
Mousavi said Iran wants to stay in the deal but needed to see the promised economic benefits.
“We are still open for diplomacy – but no lip service about the atomic deal – instead concrete and practical solutions.”
Germany, France, Britain and the EU expressed “deep concern’’ on Tuesday at Iran’s enrichment activities and called on Tehran to reverse the move “without delay.”
They asked for an urgent meeting of all remaining parties to the deal to be held sometime soon, but the statement did not outline any new steps to salvage it.
The EU has sought to keep the deal alive by developing a money transaction system known as Instex that allows Iran to circumvent U.S. sanctions and continue doing business with international partners, but the workaround has failed to get off the ground.