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E3 foreign ministers to discuss Iran’s nuclear announcement in Brussels

(Left to right:) French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speak to reporters in Bucharest on January 31, 2019. (Photo by Reuters)

The foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the UK are to meet in the EU headquarters in Brussels later on Monday to discuss Iran’s recent decision to stop implementing parts of its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

During the meeting, which will also be attended by EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini, the top diplomats will discuss their response to the deadline Iran gave Europe for the implementation of their commitments under the deal.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and Mogherini will also discuss progress on their efforts to ensure that trade with Iran will continue despite the US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

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On May 8, Iran announced that it would stop exporting excess uranium and heavy water, setting a 60-day deadline for the five remaining parties to the deal – France, the UK, Germany, China, and Russia – to take practical measures toward ensuring Iran’s interests in the face of the American sanctions.

In reaction, Mogherini and the E3 foreign ministers released a joint statement, rejecting the deadline given by Iran, while reiterating their commitment to the implementation of the nuclear deal, officially known as Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif later criticized the EU statement, regretting that the bloc was demanding that Tehran unilaterally abide by a multilateral accord, which has already been abrogated by Washington.

Iran has warned that it has put a "step-by-step" withdrawal from the JCPOA on its agenda.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Political Affairs Abbas Araqchi said in an interview on Wednesday, "We have not left the JCPOA so far, but we have put such a move on our agenda and that would happen step-by-step."

"No country can accuse Iran of breaching or leaving the nuclear deal," the diplomat noted, adding that all the measures Tehran has adopted so far, including Wednesday's move, has been within the deal's framework.

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