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World powers urge Iran to reverse atomic deal violations

From left, Head of Mission of People's Republic of China to the European Union Hailong Wu, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarifat, an unidentified Russian official, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond. (U.S. State Department/Released)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

World powers pressed Tehran on December 6 to reverse recent actions that violate a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement, a Chinese official said at the end of a meeting in Vienna that came amid heightened tensions between the West and Iran.

The agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has been unraveling since the United States unilaterally withdrew last year and reimposed American sanctions that have further crippled Iran’s struggling economy.

Iran has responded by recently exceeding the uranium and heavy-water stockpiles allowed under the accord, and has begun enriching uranium at a purity level that exceeds the limits agreed.

“Iran has made it very clear that all the actions are reversible and that they are ready to come back to full compliance,” Fu Cong told reporters at the end of the meeting that brought together Iran with the five powers remaining in the deal — China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany.

Iran has previously indicated it would undo those measures if offered the economic incentives it needs.

Iranian representative Abbas Araghchi said after the meeting that he thought the world powers “are interested to find practical solutions so they can continue their economic cooperation with Iran.”

“We see that seriousness among these countries, but of course there are problems and obstacles in the way,” he said.

The European countries that are part of the deal have warned they could invoke a clause called the dispute resolution mechanism, which can be triggered by any party to the JCPOA, if Iran does not fulfill its obligations.

That mechanism could lead to the issue being eventually brought before the UN Security Council and could result in the reimposition of sanctions that had been lifted under the deal.

On the eve of the meeting, Britain, France, and Germany — the so-called “E3” powers — accused Tehran of developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, prompting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to dismiss the allegation as a “desperate falsehood.”

Zarif also said the three countries had displayed “miserable incompetence” in fulfilling their commitments under the deal.

Helga Schmid, a European Union official who chaired the Vienna meeting, tweeted at the end that “we have a collective responsibility to preserve” the agreement. Schmid said she “urged all participants to report back to their capitals as strong efforts are needed by all sides.”