Crucial European-US talks to save the nuclear deal, amid Tehran’s escalating threat to abandon its obligations

Germany, France and Britain holding talks with the United States to discuss next steps to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

Former US President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and then re-imposed sanctions on the Iranian economy.

The European powers are trying to salvage the agreement, even though Tehran has violated some aspects of it, including uranium enrichment by more than the level specified in the agreement.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas and his British counterpart Dominique Raab are to meet French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris, while the new US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will participate in the talks via video.

The nuclear row escalated on Tuesday when Iran announced that it would restrict access by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to its facilities unless the United States lifts its tough economic sanctions against it.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned on Thursday, that the latest steps taken by Iran endanger the possibility of the United States returning to the nuclear deal.

“The greater the pressure, the more difficult it is to find a political solution,” Maas said.

He added that the talks “are becoming increasingly complex at the present time because Iran is not seeking to de-escalate the escalation, but to escalate… and this is playing with fire”.

On Monday, Iran said it would prevent surprise inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) starting next week, unless the other parties to the 2015 nuclear deal fulfill their obligations. 

The threat poses a challenge to US President Joe Biden’s hopes of reviving the deal.