Iran nuclear deal parties meet in bid to defuse tensions

The remaining parties to the faltering 2015 Iran nuclear accord meet after Tehran announces plans for a new breach of the deal, and as uncertainty reigns ahead of US President-elect Joe Biden’s January inauguration.

The meeting of the so-called “joint commission” includes China, France, Russia, Iran, Germany and Britain and is chaired by senior EU foreign affairs official Helga Schmid.

The meeting, which started at 11 am (1000 GMT), is being held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before the start of Wednesday’s talks, Russia’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweets that the focus would be on how to “preserve the nuclear deal and ensure its full and balanced implementation.”

“The role of (the) US in this regard will inevitably be discussed,” he adds.

Another diplomat says the meeting would rather be “an opportunity to say to the Iranians face to face to stop the breaches of the deal” and not to ruin the chances of a return to diplomacy under Biden.

The meeting “is not coming at the best moment,” the diplomat admits, given the uncertainty over possible developments between now and Biden’s January 20 inauguration.

Tensions between Tehran and the West have also been worsened in recent days by the execution in Iran last week of France-based dissident Ruhollah Zam, which provoked a global outcry.