European Union nations have thrown their diplomatic weight behind the unravelling Iran nuclear deal, trying to rescue the pact from collapsing under US pressure.
The 28 EU foreign ministers insisted recent Iranian actions surpassing uranium enrichment thresholds set by the 2015 deal did not necessarily condemn the whole agreement.
“We note that technically all the steps that have been taken – and that we regret have been taken – are reversible. So we hope and we invite Iran to reverse the steps,” said EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini on Monday.
“The deviations are not significant enough to think that Iran has definitively broken the agreement,” said Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell, who is in line to succeed Mogherini this (northern) autumn.
The EU currently has few direct measures for offsetting US economic sanctions against Tehran that have crippled the country’s economy, and the bloc faces US threats to target any EU companies that attempt to trade with Iran.
Noting that Iran was “still a good year away” from potentially developing a nuclear bomb, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said there was still a “small window to keep the deal alive”.
Even if Britain, France, Germany and the rest of the EU held out a helping hand to Iran, the diplomatic puzzle was made more difficult on Monday when France’s foreign ministry said a researcher with dual French-Iranian nationality had been arrested in Iran.