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Iran Nuke Talks Stall, Deal Hangs by Thread
Abbas Araghchi (C-R), political deputy at Iran;s Foreign Ministry, and the Secretary General of the European Union External Action Service Helga Schmid (C-L) attend a meeting of the JCPOA Joint Commission on Iran's nuclear program at the EU Delegation to the International Organizations office in Vienna, Austria on February 26, 2020. (Joe Klamar/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran Nuke Talks Stall, Deal Hangs by Thread

According to diplomats, little progress was made in Vienna on Wednesday during talks between officials from the remaining parties to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal. The meeting came six weeks after Britain, France and Germany triggered the accord’s dispute-resolution mechanism in response to violations by Tehran, which has steadily reduced its commitments to the pact over the past few months. The three European countries, in addition to Russia and China, are attempting to entice the Islamic Republic to return to complying with the JCPOA by devising methods to circumvent US economic sanctions re-imposed by President Donald Trump after he withdrew Washington from the deal in May 2018. One potential financial tool repeatedly discussed is known as INSTEX – a complex barter system that would allow for continued non-dollar trade with Iran that the Europeans have been promising to implement for over a year. In the interim, Tehran has expanded by more than tenfold the amount of low-enriched uranium it was producing under the terms of the deal. Iranian officials have also announced that the country is enriching the substance to a higher purity, effectively shortening a “breakout” time to the bomb. While triggering the dispute mechanism could eventually lead to the “snap back” of international sanctions on Tehran, the Europeans have made clear that this is not their intention, and even suggested that negotiations could be prolonged indefinitely.

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