Iran demands assurances after US pullout from nuclear accord
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Iran demands assurances after US pullout from nuclear accord

Ahead of meeting with remaining signatories to JCPOA, Tehran wants concrete solutions by end of May, will decide soon whether to remain in deal

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) meets with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to discuss Iran's nuclear deal, on May 15, 2018 at EU headquarters in Brussels. (AFP Photo/Pool/Thierry Monasse)
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (L) meets with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to discuss Iran's nuclear deal, on May 15, 2018 at EU headquarters in Brussels. (AFP Photo/Pool/Thierry Monasse)

VIENNA (AP) — The Iranian government wants assurances that economic incentives that were part of a landmark deal to stop the country developing nuclear weapons will be protected, despite the US withdrawal and threat of sanctions against companies who trade with Iran.

A senior Iranian official says Tehran expects European Union countries to put forward concrete solutions by the end of May to keep the 2015 Vienna accord alive.

The official briefed a small group of reporters on condition of anonymity ahead of talks Friday in the Austrian capital.

He also said that Tehran will decide within a few weeks whether to stay in the deal or not, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action JCPOA, after Washington’s dramatic withdrawal on May 8.

He told reporters, “I am personally maybe not optimistic but … I am trying my best to come to a conclusion,” the Reuters news agency reported.

The meeting between the signatories was called at Iran’s request.

US President Donald Trump has long trashed the deal with Iran — concluded under his predecessor Barack Obama — saying it did not do enough to curtail Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

He also said it did not go far enough in restricting Iran’s ballistic missile program, or its intervention in regional conflicts from Yemen to Iraq and Syria.

Since the US’s pull out, the other signatories have since embarked on a diplomatic marathon to try to keep the agreement afloat.

According to a report seen by AFP Thursday, an International Atomic Energy Agency report shows Iran is still abiding by the deal’s key restrictions on its nuclear facilities in return for relief from damaging economic sanctions.

The IAEA, however, is “encouraging (Iran) to go above and beyond the requirements” of the deal in order to boost confidence, said a senior diplomat in Vienna, where the IAEA is based.

The US, Israel and others have slammed the deal as too limited to Iran’s enrichment program, and its failure to deal with Tehran’s related ballistic missile program and its involvement in multiple conflicts in the Middle East.

Iran said it is waiting for concrete measures from the EU nations before it decides whether the deal can be saved, while threatening to restart its uranium enrichment program at an “industrial level” if not.

The five signatories still committed to the agreement have said they want Iran to stay in the deal, with the European countries saying they would not rule out further talks with the Islamic Republic on an expanded text.

However, several Iranian officials warned that the Vienna meeting would be devoted to the existing agreement only, implying that there was no question of broadening the discussions.

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