EU seeks to bring back Iran, US to nuclear deal

EU foreign affairs ministers discuss revival of Iran nuclear deal, sanctions on Russia, Myanmar

EU seeks to bring back Iran, US to nuclear deal

Iran could comply with its nuclear obligations if the US rejoins the 2015 nuclear deal, the EU's foreign policy chief said on Monday.

“Important diplomatic contacts are taking place with all parties” of the Iran nuclear deal, Josep Borrell said ahead of the meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers.

The bloc’s top diplomats are expected to negotiate a wide range of issues on Monday, including the Iran nuclear deal, relations with Russia, recent developments in Belarus and Myanmar.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to join the EU ministers via video link.

Return to Iran nuclear deal

The bloc is in negotiations with the US “to see if it is possible to come back to the Iran nuclear deal that was abandoned by the [Donald] Trump administration. I think it is a way for Iran to go back to the fulfillment of nuclear obligations,” the EU foreign policy chief said.

The nuclear agreement – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – was signed in 2015 by Iran, the US, China, Russia, France, the UK, Germany, and the EU.

Under the deal, Tehran has committed to limit its nuclear activity to civilian purposes and in return world powers agreed to drop their economic sanctions against Iran.

However, the US, under Trump, unilaterally withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran, prompting Tehran to stop complying with the nuclear deal.

Russia’s ‘confrontational course’

The foreign ministers will also discuss the possibility of imposing sanctions on Russia during their meeting.

“Russia is in a confrontational course with EU,” Borrell said, adding Moscow “refuses to respect its international engagements” to provide fair trial to opposition figure Alexey Navalny, including the “refusal to take into account the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.”

EU foreign ministers will have a “discussion how to react to this,” he added.

Navalny was arrested in the Russian capital upon his return in January from Germany where he had received treatment after alleged poisoning by Russian agents.

Sanctions on Myanmar

The bloc also condemned the military coup in Myanmar and said it is ready to impose sanctions on the country’s military junta.

"We see increasing violence in the aftermath of the military coup. We have to react to the violations of human rights,” Borrell said.

The country has seen large protests since the military declared a state of emergency on Feb. 1. Security forces in the country have reacted with violence to the protests.