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.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry sent its political director, Jens Ploetner, to Iran to meet with Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi to try to 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.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency reported that Arghchi demanded that European signatories follow through on their commitments under the deal. According to the report, Ploetner said the European side will continue to work to meet Iran’s demands and save the deal. The report did not elaborate.
The German envoy’s visit 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 sanctions.
“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.