Western European powers stepped up efforts yesterday to try to save a 2015 deal to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions -- on life support since a 2018 decision by the US to withdraw and reimpose sanctions.
Officials from Britain, France and Germany began a meeting in Vienna -- the first since they launched a dispute process over alleged violations by Iran -- aiming to persuade the Middle Eastern country to fall back into line with the deal.
The other parties to the deal, China and Russia, are also taking part in the talks overseen by the European Union, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying on Twitter there was still a chance "to stop escalation before it is too late".
In its last announcement in early January, Tehran said it would no longer observe limits on the number of centrifuges used to enrich uranium. It was its fifth step away from the deal since US President Donald Trump's withdrawal, and led to Germany, Britain and France triggering the dispute process on January 14.
The process spells out several steps, the last one of which is notifying the UN Security Council. UN sanctions would then automatically "snap back" after 30 days unless the Security Council voted to stop it.
Western diplomats believe Iran is highly unlikely to heed calls to come back into full compliance without substantial concessions in return -- such as an end to US sanctions or Europe taking measures to offset their economic impact.