US President Donald Trump. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Parties to Iran Nuclear Deal to Convene on Wednesday in Vienna

Officials from the remaining parties to the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal with Iran will convene in Vienna on Wednesday, six weeks after Britain, France and Germany triggered the pact’s dispute mechanism in response to Iranian violations. Russia and China are the other countries trying to salvage the accord, from which President Donald Trump withdrew the US in May 2018. Over the past two months, Tehran has expanded by more than ten-fold the amount of low-enriched uranium it was previously producing. Iranian officials also announced that the country was enriching the substance to 5% purity, exceeding the 3.67% limit outlined in the nuclear deal but below the 90% level required for nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic has concurrently renewed activities at its controversial Fordow installation, which is heavily fortified inside a mountain near the city of Qom. By stockpiling low-enriched uranium, Iran is effectively shortening its “breakout” time to the bomb. The Vienna meeting comes as Iran’s economy is reeling from US economic sanctions that were reinstated by President Trump after he nixed the nuclear agreement. Accordingly, most analysts agree that Tehran will only resume complying with its nuclear commitments if the Europeans devise mechanisms to offset the regime’s financial pinch. In the interim, the dispute process could drag out for months, and there are faint hopes that during this period, Washington and Tehran – which in January engaged in military exchanges in Iraq – could reach some sort of détente.

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