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Europe to Tolerate Iran’s Nuclear Deal Suspension Steps

The Wall Street Journal has cited European diplomats as saying that Britain, France, and Germany - collectively known as the EU3 – they don't expect Iran to reverse the suspension of its nuclear deal commitments and that they "privately say they are prepared to tolerate those steps". Earlier this month, the three European signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) triggered the dispute settlement mechanism featured in the nuclear deal in response to what they claimed was Iran’s violations of the deal. Iran has rejected the accusations, saying it has suspended its JCPOA obligations as permitted under the deal in cases where other JCPOA signatories fail to uphold their commitments. The dispute mechanism can lead to the restoration of United Nations sanctions previously lifted under the landmark deal within a 60-day deadline. According to the WSJ report, however, European diplomats are preparing to extend JCPOA-related discussions for the "foreseeable future" and "well beyond" the mechanism's 60-day deadline. The diplomats say that the measure seeks to persuade Tehran against taking major "new nuclear steps Iran has not taken yet" and "restrain" the expansion of its nuclear activities. The report added that European officials are currently divided, however, on what would constitute as a restrained approach from Iran, with some proposing that Tehran’s "modest" continued expansion of its uranium production would be acceptable.   Earlier this month, Iran announced that it will no longer observe any JCPOA-related operational limitations on its nuclear industry and that it will continue activities based on its "technical needs". According to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the announcement marked Iran's final step in its gradual and reciprocal suspension of its JCPOA obligations in the face of US sanctions and the European signatories to meet their commitments. The sanctions are part of Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy which the US administration hopes would ultimately force Iran to negotiate a sweeping deal, covering its ballistic missile program and its role in Middle East. The Islamic Republic, however, has held its ground and said it will not renegotiate a 2015 nuclear deal which President Donald Trump abandoned in May 2018 and announced the most draconian sanctions ever on the country. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Trump administration was seeking to keep pressure on Iran after assassinating top military commander General Qassem Soleimani. Senior US officials, the paper said, are urging Trump to keep imposing economic sanctions and wait to see if European leaders move to reimpose United Nations sanctions on Iran. Tehran has repeatedly said it is ready to resume fulfilling its commitments under the landmark nuclear deal if sanctions imposed on the country are removed and it can avail itself of the JCPOA's promised benefits. Europe's triggering of the dispute mechanism came after Trump threatened to impose tariff on France, Britain and Germany if they do not accuse Iran of breaking the 2015 nuclear deal, according to reports.

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