Hours after Iran said it could break the uranium stockpile limit set by the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers in the next 10 days, the EU's foreign policy chief said the 28-country bloc will continue to do what it can to make sure the agreement holds.
Federica Mogherini said work is ongoing on putting in place "a mechanism that can allow the Iranians to benefit from the economic transactions that can legitimately take place." She would not speculate what would happen if Tehran veers away from the terms of the global deal. Mogherini said that "so far, Iran has been compliant with its nuclear commitment as we had expected it to be," and insisted she would await the next report on the issue from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The foundations of the landmark agreement, which put limits on Iran's nuclear ambitions in return for economic support, have grown weaker since President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the agreement last year and then slapped sanctions on Iran.
"It is not an easy exercise," Federica Mogherini said. "We never made a mystery out of it ... during the last year it has become increasingly difficult for all." The EU, notably Britain, France and Germany, who were signatories to the 2015 deal, have been trying to make sure that Tehran abides by the terms of the agreement and hope financial inducements to Tehran will help out.
Germany, a key partner in the agreement, said it is up to Iran to stick to the nuclear deal if it wants to avoid any further unspecified measures. Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in Luxembourg that Germany, France, Britain, China and Russia were keeping their obligations under the nuclear deal and that it is "incumbent upon Iran to remain committed to its responsibilities."
"I have the impression that a lot is being threatened, by the way from both sides, and I don't see that as very constructive," he said. Separately, EU nations were also still evaluating information on the apparent attacks against two tankers in the Persian Gulf last week.
Monday's announcement that Iran will surpass the uranium-stockpile limit set by its nuclear deal in the next 10 days, follows apparent attacks last week in the Strait of Hormuz on oil tankers, assaults that Washington has blamed on Iran. Iran denies it was involved.
"I consider now, as before, that the situation is extremely explosive," Maas said. "Military confrontation in the Gulf would mean the whole region in flames, and that can't be in anyone's interest."
David Rising contributed from Berlin