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World diplomats hold talks in Vienna in effort to salvage Iran nuclear deal

World leaders meet in Vienna over Iran deal

Diplomats from Iran and five world powers recommitted Sunday to salvaging a major nuclear deal amid mounting tensions between the West and Tehran since the U.S. withdrew from the accord and reimposed sanctions.

Representatives of Iran, Germany, France, Britain, China, Russia and the European Union met in Vienna to discuss the 2015 agreement that restricts the Iranian nuclear program.

"The atmosphere was constructive, and the discussions were good," Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi told reporters after the meeting ended.

"I cannot say that we resolved everything" but all the parties are still "determined to save this deal," he added.

Fu Cong, the head of Chinese delegation, said that while there were "some tense moments" during the meeting, "on the whole the atmosphere was very good. Friendly. And it was very professional."

Both diplomats said there was a general agreement to organize a higher-level meeting of foreign ministers soon, but also that preparations for such a summit needed to be done well. A date has not been set.

EU-AUSTRIA-IRAN-USA-NUCLEAR-POLITICS-DIPLOMACY-ENERGY
Abbas Araghchi (Center R), political deputy at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Iran, and Helga Schmid (Center L), Secretary General of the European Union's External Action Service, take part in a meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action attended by the E3+2 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom) and Iran on July 28, 2019, at the Palais Coburg in Vienna, Austria. Getty

Iran is pressuring the European parties to the deal to offset the sanctions President Trump reinstated after the U.S. pulled out. The country recently surpassed the amount of low-enriched uranium it is allowed to stockpile and started enriching uranium past a 3.67% limit permitted, to 4.5%, saying the actions could be reversed if the Europeans came up with incentives that compensated for the impact of the sanctions on the Iranian economy.

Iran's recent moves — which it defends as permissible after the U.S. withdrawal — are seen as a way to force the others to openly confront the sanctions. Araghchi told reporters after the meeting that Iran would continue decreasing its commitments until the Europeans meet its demands.

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said Sunday that the country has enriched 24 tons of uranium since it reached the 2015 nuclear deal with the other countries and the EU.

At the Sunday meeting, Fu said, the Europeans urged Iran to come back to full compliance and Iran urged the European Union, France, Britain and Germany to implement their part of the deal.

Fu said all sides expressed strong opposition against the unilateral imposition of sanctions by the U.S., especially the extraterritorial application of the sanctions. They also voiced support for China's efforts to maintain normal trade and oil relations with Iran, Fu added.

In addition to trade with China, Iran is especially keen on the activation of a barter-type system set up by the Europeans that would allow the continent's businesses to trade with Tehran without violating the U.S. sanctions.

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