US, Europeans urge Iran to keep allowing nuclear inspections

Regional News

PARIS (AP) — Top European and U.S. officials are urging Iran to keep allowing United Nations nuclear inspections to salvage a 2015 deal between Tehran and world powers and to cool global tensions over Iran’s atomic ambitions.

The foreign ministers of France, Germany and Britain met Thursday in Paris to discuss security in Iran and the region, and U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken joined them by videoconference.

Iran has said it will stop part of International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of its nuclear facilities next week if the West doesn’t implement its own commitments under the 2015 deal. The accord has been unraveling since Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the agreement in 2018.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned that Iran was “playing with fire” and could jeopardize efforts to get the United States back as a signatory now that Trump no longer is in office.

“We are the ones who have kept this agreement alive in recent years, and now it’s about supporting the United States in taking the road back into the agreement,” Maas told reporters in Paris.

“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,” he said.

The accord aims to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb, which it says it doesn’t want to do. Tehran has been using its violations of the deal to put pressure on the remaining signatories — France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China — to provide more incentives to Iran to offset crippling. sanctions the Trump administration re-imposed after pulling out of the 2015 deal.

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 International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, is scheduled to travel to Iran this weekend to find a solution that allows the agency to continue inspections.

In Iran, Rouhani expressed hope Thursday that the Biden administration will rejoin the accord and lift the U.S. sanctions that the United States re-imposed under Trump, according to state television.

Ahead of Thursday’s talks in Paris, U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price urged Iran to “provide full and timely cooperation with the IAEA.”

He insisted that “the path for diplomacy remains open….We hope to be able to pursue it together with our allies and partners.”

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