The signatories to the Iran nuclear deal remain committed to the faltering accord, China and Russia said yesterday, following crunch talks as Tehran has vowed to continue to breach limits on its nuclear programme.
Envoys from Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran took part in the three-hour-long meeting in Vienna, which is the first time the six parties have gathered in this format since July.
Since May, Iran has taken a series of measures, including stepping up uranium enrichment, in breach of the 2015 deal, with another such move likely in early January.
Iran insists that under the agreement it has the right to take these measures in retaliation for the US’s withdrawal from the deal in 2018 and reimposition of crippling sanctions.
Since last month, European members have in turn begun raising the possibility of triggering the so-called “dispute resolution mechanism” foreseen in the accord, which could lead to the resumption of UN sanctions on Iran.
On the eve of what was already likely to be a strained meeting, Britain, France and Germany accused Iran of developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, in a letter to the UN on Thursday. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif dismissed the allegation as “desperate falsehood”.
Chinese delegation head Cong Fu told reporters after the talks that all parties remained committed to the deal and the dispute resolution mechanism -- which China is against activating -- was not evoked. Other envoys did not talk as they left the EU delegation, which hosted the meeting.
Meanwhile, the US Thursday said that Iranian authorities may have killed more than 1,000 people in a crackdown on demonstrations.
The damning account came as the US put new pressure in the region on its arch-enemy, with an official saying the Pentagon was considering sending 5,000 to 7,000 more troops.
Brian Hook, the US pointman on Iran, said that “many thousands” of Iranians have been wounded and that at least 7,000 protesters have been detained. President Donald Trump called the crackdown “brutal” and a “horrible situation” as he vowed to respond “strongly” to any threat from Iran against US interests.