Germany to lead EU talks with Iran over nuclear pact

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will try to walk Iran back from its July 7 ultimatum for European nations

Photo: EPA Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (R) shakes hands with German foreign minister Heiko Maas in Tehran, Iran

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has arrived in Tehran to hold talks with Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and President Hassan Rouhanion today, as part of a concerted European effort to preserve Iran’s nuclear pact with world powers and defuse rising US-Iranian tensions. His trip was thus coordinated with France and Britain, and also discussed with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

During a weekend stopover in Iraq en route to the iranian capital, Maas warned about the dangers of any conflict with Iran for the entire Middle East, and said the Europeans were convinced it was worth trying to keep the nuclear agreement with Iran. In Abu Dhabi, he also issued a warning to Iran.

“We are not prepared to have a discussion on ‘less for less’,” Maas told reporters, referring to Iran’s decision to reciprocate for the reimposition of sanctions. 

Maas also said that, in his talks, he would stress his concerns about Iranian activity in Syria and Yemen.

“However, we think that this should take place as part of a dialogue,” he said, adding he did not think a strategy of maximum pressure and threats was helpful.

In response, Zarif was quoted by Fars news agency on Sunday as saying Maas’s visit showed Germany was trying to “keep the (nuclear deal) alive”. But, suggesting Iran did not view Maas as a mediator with Washington, he added: “It is unlikely that the German foreign minister is traveling to Tehran to carry a special message.”

Maas's trip is aimed at salvaging the 2015 deal between Iran and a group of world powers that curtailed Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions. Tensions in the relations between US and Iran have mounted again since President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the accord in 2018 and reimposed sweeping sanctions. In addition, Washington has sent more military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles, in a show of force against what US officials call Iranian threats to US troops and interests in the region.

As a result, last month Iran scaled back some commitments under the 2015 deal and warned that in 60 days it would resume refining uranium to a higher fissile degree than that permitted by the accord if Europe failed to shield its trade from US sanctions.

Similar articles