14:30 GMT21 January 2021
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    The crisis over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal has been brewing since the US unilaterally pulled out of the accord in May 2018; Washington followed up with harsh economic sanctions against Tehran. Exactly a year later, Iran announced the suspension of part of its obligations under the deal, stressing, however, that it is not leaving the agreement.

    European signatories to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are currently unwilling to impose sanctions against Iran over its increasing ramp-up of uranium enrichment, Reuters quoted unnamed diplomatic sources as saying.

    “Not for now. We want to defuse the crisis,” one source said when asked whether Europe would launch the dispute resolution mechanism enshrined in the JCPOA.

    The mechanism stipulates that JCPOA-related violations should be resolved within 65 days of the mechanism’s launch. After that, the issue is submitted to the UN Security Council for it to consider a possible renewal of the anti-Iranian sanctions, which were cancelled after the signing of the Iran deal.

    Another source singled out efforts by Britain, France and Germany to bring Iran back into compliance with the JCPOA, adding that these countries are seeking to obtain more time for negotiations.

    “In the immediate term, Iran must return to its obligations. There is room for dialogue,” the source underscored.

    The remarks come after the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed on Monday that Tehran had stockpiled more than 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of enriched uranium, exceeding limitations specified by the JCPOA.

    US President Donald Trump accused Iran of “playing with fire”, while US National Security Adviser John Bolton claimed that “there is no reason for Iran to increase its enrichment unless it’s part of an effort to reduce the breakout time to produce nuclear weapons”.

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, for his part, insisted that, contrary to a US Senate Foreign Relations Committee statement, Iran has never violated the terms of the JCPOA.

    “We have NOT violated the #JCPOA. We triggered & exhausted [paragraph] 36 [of JCPOA] after US withdrawal. We gave E3+2 [European signatories] a few weeks while reserving our right. We finally took action after 60 weeks. As soon as E3 abide[s] by their obligations, we'll reverse”, Zarif tweeted on Monday.

    Earlier this year, Iran rolled out an ultimatum to the EU JCPOA signatories that the nation would begin enriching uranium past the limits outlined in the deal unless the EU provides Tehran with an effective trade mechanism to bypass the US sanctions.

    The Islamic Republic suspending some of its JCPOA commitments on 8 May, adding further to US-Iranian tensions which have been in place since Washington’s unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal in May 2018. President Trump later reinstated strict economic sanctions against Tehran.

    Following the US’ exit, all of the other signatories called for the preservation of the JCPOA, with Iran repeatedly declaring its commitment to adhere to the terms of the deal.

    Iran’s JCPOA suspension was followed by Washington slapping additional sanctions on Iran and sending a US aircraft carrier strike force to the Persian Gulf, in what US National Security John Bolton said was a “clear’ message to Iran.

    Bilateral tensions became further exacerbated after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said in June that they had downed a US spy drone inside Iranian airspace, something that was denied by the US Central Command, which claimed that the unmanned aerial vehicle was hit while operating over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz.


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    signatories, sanctions, deal, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Iran, US
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