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West pushes Iran to return to ‘full compliance’ with nuclear deal

PARIS, France: European powers and the United States on Thursday warned Iran it would be “dangerous” to carry out a threatened limit to UN nuclear agency inspections, adding Tehran must return to full compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

The foreign ministers of France, Germany and the United Kingdom – which form the so-called “E3” group – met Thursday in Paris to discuss security in Iran and the Middle East region, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken joined them by videoconference.

“Regarding Iran, the E3 and the United States expressed their shared fundamental security interest in upholding the nuclear non-proliferation regime and ensuring that Iran can never develop a nuclear weapon,” the ministers said in a joint statement after a virtual meeting.

Their statement urged “Iran to consider the consequences of such grave action, particularly at this time of renewed diplomatic opportunity”, adding that they all shared the aim of Iran returning to “full compliance” with the accord.

The ministers “expressed their shared concerns over Iran’s recent actions to produce both uranium enriched up to 20% and uranium metal”, the statement said.

It was the second time that US Secretary of State Blinken had held discussions with his European counterparts since President Joe Biden took office last month promising to work more closely with allies than his predecessor, Donald Trump.

Iran has said it will stop part of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspections of its nuclear facilities on February 21 if the other signatories do not implement their own commitments under the 2015 deal.

The accord has been unravelling since Donald Trump pulled the US out of the agreement in 2018.

“The measures that have been taken in Tehran and may be taken in the coming days are anything but helpful. They endanger the Americans’ path back into this agreement. The more pressure that is exerted, the more politically difficult it will be to find a solution,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters in Paris.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the president of the European Council spoke with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani this week to try to end the diplomatic standoff.

The head of the IAEA is scheduled to travel to Iran this weekend to find a solution that allows the agency to continue inspections.

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