E3, U.S. call on Iran “not to take any additional steps”

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PARIS, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) — France, Germany, the United Kingdom (E3) and the United States on Thursday affirmed their shared objective of Iran’s return to full compliance with its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, calling on Iran “not to take any additional steps” such as limiting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) verification activities.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian hosted his German and British counterparts, Heiko Maas and Dominic Raab, in Paris, while the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined the talk via video link.

“The E3 welcomed the United States’ stated intention to return to diplomacy with Iran as well as the resumption of a confident and in-depth dialogue between the E3 and the United States,” the ministers said in a joint statement after the meeting.

“The Ministers affirmed strong interest in continuing their consultations and coordination, including with China and Russia, on this key security issue, recognizing the role of the High Representative of the European Union as Coordinator of the Joint Commission,” it added.

The Iran nuclear program, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was reached in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Britain, Russia, France, China, plus Germany) and the European Union. Under the deal, Tehran agreed to roll back parts of its nuclear weapon program in exchange for decreased economic sanctions.

Following the U.S. exit from the nuclear deal in 2018 and the reimposed sanctions, Iran has stopped implementing parts of its obligations under the JCPOA.

During his meeting with his European counterparts, Blinken “reiterated that, as President Biden has said, if Iran comes back into strict compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, the United States will do the same and is prepared to engage in discussions with Iran toward that end,” said the statement.

Earlier in February, Iran announced that it “is not holding any meeting with U.S. representatives until Washington effectively lifts its sanctions.” In January, a senior Iranian lawmaker warned that Iran will expel the IAEA inspectors and stop voluntary implementation of the IAEA’s Additional Protocol if the U.S. anti-Iran sanctions are not lifted by Feb. 21.

In this context, the E3 and the U.S. “called on Iran not to take any additional steps, in particular with respect to the suspension of the Additional Protocol and to any limitations on IAEA verification activities in Iran,” said the statement.

They added that they are “united in underlining the dangerous nature of a decision to limit IAEA access, and urge Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity.”

In addition, they expressed “shared concerns over Iran’s recent actions to produce both uranium enriched up to 20 percent and uranium metal.”

Iran said in early January that it was starting to produce 20 percent enriched uranium, as part of the country’s Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions which was approved by the parliament in December 2020.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif argued that the action “conforms fully” with the JCPOA and affirmed that the measures were “fully reversible upon FULL compliance by ALL.” Enditem

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