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Top EU Diplomat Visits Iran Amid Nuclear Tensions

BRUSSELS – European Union (EU) Foreign Minister Josep Borrell is on his way to Iran, it is his first trip since coming to power in December, with the aim of reducing tensions over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.
During his two-day trip which started on Monday, Borrell will meet with President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, his office said in a statement.
Borrell’s visit aims “to defuse tensions and seek political solutions to the current crisis,” said the office of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
The 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and a group of world powers has been crumbling since the President of the United States, Donald Trump, pulled out in 2018.
Washington has since tightened sanctions and waged a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.
Iran has gradually renounced its own commitments under the deal, while military tensions with the United States have brought the two countries to the brink of full-blown confrontation in recent weeks.
Borrell’s visit will allow him to “express the EU’s firm commitment to preserving” the nuclear deal, known as the Common Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and to discuss cooperation between the EU and Iran, his office said.
Tensions in the region intensified following the murder in January of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani by the United States in Iraq.
Washington accuses Tehran of seeking a nuclear weapon, which Iran has always denied.
The historic nuclear deal reached in Vienna between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, the United States and Russia – plus Germany, offered Tehran a partial respite from crippling international sanctions.
In return, Iran agreed to significantly reduce its nuclear activities and submit to a tailor-made inspection regime of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Renewed U.S. sanctions have almost entirely isolated Iran from the international financial system, driven oil buyers out, and plunged the country into a severe recession.
Iran now produces enriched uranium beyond the 3.67% set by the agreement and no longer meets the limit of 300 kilograms (660 pounds) imposed on its stocks of enriched uranium.
It also took over research and development which was limited by the agreement.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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