PARIS (AP) — The Latest on talks between Europe and U.S. officials on Iran (all times local):
An Iranian official says Iran’s growing stocks of enriched uranium don’t violate the international accord aimed at curbing its nuclear development.
Amid growing tensions with the U.S., Iran is poised to push its low-enriched uranium stocks beyond a 300-kilogram limit that is part of the 2015 deal with world powers.
The Iranian official said Iran was 2.8 kilograms below the limit as of Wednesday and another assessment won’t be done until “after the weekend.”
Even if it surpasses the limit set in the treaty, he said, “we are not breaching the deal.”
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of backroom discussions taking place to try to save the 2015 deal. A key meeting is scheduled for Friday in Vienna.
The official insists Iran wants to “save the deal” and he urged Europeans to start buying Iranian oil or to give Iran a credit line to keep the accord alive. Iran’s economy is struggling under U.S. sanctions that came into force when President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal.
-By Philipp Jenne
Iran’s U.N. ambassador says if his country exceeds limits on low-enriched uranium set by the 2015 nuclear deal, that can be quickly reversed as soon as Tehran sees recovery in its oil and banking sectors.
Majid Takht Ravanchi told reporters at a briefing Thursday that he didn’t have “any exact information” on whether the 300-kilogram limit has been breached.
He said he hopes that at Friday’s meeting in Vienna of the five parties remaining in the nuclear deal “tangible results can be achieved so that we can reverse our decision.”
Ravanchi said Iran isn’t planning to get out of the 2015 agreement, which the United States left last year.
But he said Iran is “not happy with the Europeans” supporting the agreement — Britain, France and Germany — because it has taken so much time to put in operation a program to allow Iran to trade. The three countries said Wednesday they are finalizing a “special purpose vehicle” called INSTEX to facilitate trade while avoiding U.S. sanctions.
The Trump administration has called for dialogue with Iran, but Ravanchi said the U.S. “maximum pressure policy is not designed to prepare for dialogue.”
“They want to act like the older brother telling the younger brother how to behave,” he said. “The right atmosphere” is needed, and right now “it’s an atmosphere of animosity.”
Ravanchi stressed that “sanctions and dialogue are mutually exclusive.”
The U.S. envoy for Iran says the United States does not want conflict with Iran — but wants to build up international defenses in the region just in case.
Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook told The Associated Press on Thursday that war with Iran “isn’t necessary.” He said “we are not looking for any conflict in the region,” but if the U.S. is attacked, “we will respond with military force.”
He said the U.S. is trying to drum up support for an international naval force in Persian Gulf, notably to protect oil tankers.
Hook estimated that Iran is still at least a year away from building a nuclear weapon. He wouldn’t comment on whether Iran had surpassed a key 300-kilogram stockpile limit of low-enriched uranium, which Tehran had threatened to do by Thursday.
Hook is meeting in Paris with European diplomats who are trying to keep alive the 2015 U.N. deal curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Hook urged the Europeans to impose more sanctions instead.
The U.S. special envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, is meeting with French, German and British top diplomats in Paris for talks on the Persian Gulf crisis at a time when European powers are trying to save the 2015 nuclear deal struck with Tehran.
European countries want to avoid a further escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Iran and are trying to convince Iran not to leave the nuclear deal, which the U.S. pulled out of last year.
Iran has said it will break out of the nuclear deal’s limit on its stockpiles of low-enriched uranium by Thursday, following the re-imposition of U.S. sanctions.
On Wednesday, Iran’s U.N. ambassador urged Britain, France and Germany to take “timely” practical steps to preserve the agreement, “which is now in critical condition.”