German Diplomat in Iran for Nuke Talks 05/23 06:12
BERLIN (AP) -- A senior German diplomat headed Thursday to Tehran to press
Iran to continue to respect the landmark nuclear deal, despite the unilateral
withdrawal of the U.S. and increasing pressure from Washington.
Tensions have soared in the Mideast recently as the White House earlier this
month sent an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region over a
still-unexplained threat it perceived from Iran.
In Berlin, the Foreign Ministry said Political Director Jens Ploetner was to
hold talks with Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi on Thursday to
try salvage the nuclear deal signed in 2015 in Vienna. The accord has steadily
unraveled since the Trump administration pulled America out of the deal,
re-imposed and escalated U.S. sanctions on Tehran last year.
The German envoy's visit also follows Iran's declaration earlier this month
that the remaining signatories to the deal --- Germany, France, Britain, China
and Russia --- have two months to develop a plan to shield Iran from American
"The situation in the Persian Gulf and the region, and the situation
surrounding the Vienna nuclear agreement, is extremely serious," the German
Foreign Ministry said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "There is a real
risk of escalation --- including due to misunderstandings or an incident. In
this situation, dialogue is very important."
With Iran's 60-day deadline, the ministry said there is still a "window for
diplomacy to persuade Iran to continue its full compliance" and said Germany
remains in close contact with the other nations that have been struggling to
keep the deal alive.
The accord, intended to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, promised
economic incentives in exchange for restrictions on Tehran's nuclear
activities. Despite efforts so far by the others to keep the deal from
collapsing, Iran's economy has been struggling and its currency has plummeted
after the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions.
Iran continued abiding by the stipulations of the deal, according to a
February report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, though it expressed
increasing frustration with the inability of the Europeans to provide economic
relief. A new IAEA report is due out soon.
Then on Monday, Iran announced it had quadrupled its production capacity of
low-enriched uranium. Iranian officials made a point to stress that the uranium
would be enriched only to the 3.67% limit set under the nuclear deal, making it
usable for a power plant but far below what's needed for an atomic weapon.
But by increasing production, Iran will likely soon exceed the stockpile
limitations set by the nuclear accord, which would escalate the situation
Several incidents have added to the crisis, including the sabotage of the
oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, as well as a rocket that
landed near the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The U.S. has blamed Iran for both
incidents without publicly offering evidence. America also has evacuated
nonessential diplomatic staff from Iraq amid the tensions.
Also, Iran-aligned rebels in Yemen have targeted a Saudi pipeline and sent a
bomb-laden drone to target a Saudi airport with a military base on Tuesday.