France, Germany seeking to reduce tensions between Iran, US but warn time running out
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France, Germany seeking to reduce tensions between Iran, US but warn time running out

After a cabinet meeting in Paris on Wednesday, Le Drian said that Iran’s announcement on Monday to exceed its uranium stockpile limit in the next 10 days was very worrying and not in Tehran’s interest, but he pointed the finger at the United States. “We … consider the US’ decision to break with the accord is not good and that its maximum pressure campaign is contributing to tensions,” Le Drian told reporters. “So we want to unify our efforts so that there is a de-escalation process that starts,” he added, but said there remained “only a little time” and expressed hope that “all the actors show more calm” to defuse tensions. Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who attended the French cabinet meeting, described the ongoing tensions as “a serious situation” and warned that the risk of war in the Persian Gulf “has not been averted.” “We need to do everything so that it doesn’t come to this. That’s why we are talking to all sides. I was in Iran and we are also talking with the Americans. We need to de-escalate through dialogue. It is a time of ‘diplomacy first’ and that’s what we are committed to,” Maas said. Diplomats told Reuters on Tuesday that Britain, France and Germany, the three European signatories to the JCPOA, plan a new push to keep Iran in the nuclear deal, but warned about a possible stalemate in the diplomatic road that started 15 years ago and culminated in the conclusion of the JCPOA.   The three countries have voiced their support for the JCPOA and promised to keep the accord alive since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it last year and began re-imposing American sanctions. Iran has, however, been critical of the Europeans, saying they have failed to fully implement the agreement and keep trade with Tehran to help the country benefit from the JCPOA. On May 8, the first anniversary of Washington’s unilateral exit from the deal, Iran announced its decision to stop exporting excess uranium and heavy water for a 60-day period, during which the remaining sides would have to ensure that Iran is no more deprived of the economic benefits it was promised under the agreement. Earlier this week, Iran announced that it will surpass the uranium stockpile limit set under the nuclear deal from June 27, adding, however, that there is still time for European countries to save the JCPOA.  Earlier on Wednesday, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran’s decision last month to suspend some of its commitments under the JCPOA is Tehran's smallest possible reaction to the breaches committed by the other signatories to the accord. Contrary to how some countries are trying to project Tehran’s decision, “What we did was Iran’s minimum measure [in the face of the breaches],” Rouhani said at a cabinet meeting. Washington stoked tensions with Tehran after its unilateral exit from the JCPOA and reinstatement of sanctions as part of its policy of “maximum” pressure against the Islamic Republic. Tensions further spiked between Iran and the US after Washington’s decision to strengthen its military build-up in the region. Such deployments began in May when the US sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the region along with Patriot missile batteries, among other reinforcements, citing alleged Iranian threats. Shortly before the announcement for deployment of additional troops in the Persian Gulf, the Pentagon released a blurry video that it claimed showed Iranian boats removing a mine from one of two tankers attacked in the Gulf of Oman on June 13. The US has blamed Iran for the attacks, which hit one Japanese-owned and one Norwegian-owned tanker. The tankers were carrying Japanese-related crude near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Tehran has vigorously denied the allegation, calling the attacks “suspicious.”

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