Britain, France and Germany air fears over Iran nuclear deal

Britain France and Germany say they fear the Iran nuclear deal is at risk of collapsing after the US pulled out of the agreement and reimposed sanctions which has seen escalating tensions in the Gulf.

Tehran and Washington have clashed after Donald Trump withdrew last year from the agreement made four years ago with six world powers and imposed sanctions on Iran that had been lifted under the pact.

Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), Iran agreed to eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium, cut its stockpile of low-enriched uranium and reduce the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.

But Mr Trump said Tehran had flouted the agreement and was aiming to build a nuclear weapon.

In a joint statement on Sunday, Britain, France and Germany urged both sides to resume dialogue and reiterated their commitment to the nuclear deal.

The statement said: “We, the leaders of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, sharing common security interests, in particular upholding the non-proliferation regime, recall our continuing commitment to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) that was agreed upon four years ago with Iran, on 14 July 2015.

“Since 2003, our three countries, later joined by the United States, Russia and China, have been engaged in a long-standing and determined policy vis a vis Iran with the clear objective that this country, a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, respects its obligations in good faith and never develops or acquires a nuclear weapon.

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“Together, we have stated unambiguously on 8 May 2018 our regret and concern after the decision of the United States to withdraw from the JCPoA and to re-impose sanctions on Iran, while this country had implemented its commitments under the agreement – as consistently confirmed by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) until last month.

“Since May 2018, our three countries have made their best efforts to work with all the remaining parties to the deal to ensure that the Iranian people could continue to benefit from the legitimate economic advantages provided by the JCPoA.

“Today, we are concerned by the risk that the JCPoA further unravels under the strain of sanctions imposed by the United States and following Iran’s decision to no longer implement several of the central provisions of the agreement.

“We are extremely concerned by Iran’s decision to stockpile and enrich uranium in excess of authorised limits.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi at a JCPOA (nuclear deal) meeting in Vienna on Friday
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“Moreover, our three countries are deeply troubled by the attacks we have witnessed in the Persian Gulf and beyond, and by the deterioration of the security in the region.

“We believe the time has come to act responsibly and seek a path to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue.

“The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause and consider the possible consequences of their actions.

“Our countries have recently taken several diplomatic initiatives to contribute to de-escalation and dialogue, for which signs of goodwill are urgently needed, from all sides.

Hassan Rouhani has said the White House is 'afflicted with mental retardation'
Image: Hassan Rouhani says talks with the US can start again if sanctions are lifted

“While we continue to support the JCPoA, its continuation is contingent on Iran’s full compliance, and we strongly urge Iran to reverse its recent decisions in this regard.”

President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday Iran was ready to talk to the US if Washington lifted sanctions and returned to the 2015 nuclear deal.

In a televised speech, Mr Rouhani said: “We have always believed in talks… if they lift sanctions, end the imposed economic pressure and return to the deal, we are ready to hold talks with America today, right now and anywhere.”

The latest developments come amid a stand-off between Iran and the UK over the supertanker held in Gibraltar that was seized last week in an operation involving British Royal Marines.

Authorities said there was reason to believe the ship, called the Grace 1, was carrying crude oil to the Baniyas Refinery in Syria.
Iran and UK talk over solutions for tanker row

The ship was suspected of taking crude oil to Syrian president Bashar al Assad’s regime in breach of EU sanctions.

Iran has demanded the release of the supertanker and has threatened reprisals against the UK.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discussed the crisis and heightened tensions in a phone call on Saturday.

In a series of tweets, Mr Hunt said it had been a “constructive call”.

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