The remaining parties to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JPCOA) are meeting in Vienna on Friday December 6th in an attempt to save the landmark deal lifting sanctions on Iran in return for limits on Iran’s nuclear development programme. The meeting was prompted by Tehran’s vow to continue to break agreed limits on its nuclear programme, according to AFP.
It’s the first time the six concerned parties (Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and Iran) will have gathered to discuss the agreement since July. The 7th party, the USA, withdrew from the agreement in 2018.
Since May Iran has taken a series of steps, including stepping up uranium enrichment, violating the 2015 deal. Iran said that under the agreement it has the right to take these steps in response to the US withdrawal from the deal and the re-imposition of crippling sanctions.
In their turn, the European parties have begun since last month to raise the possibility of triggering the so-called "dispute resolution mechanism" which could lead to the resumption of UN sanctions on Iran in addition to those re-imposed by the US.
On the eve of the meeting, in a letter to the UN on Thursday December 5th, Britain, France and Germany accused Iran of developing nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
If UN sanctions are re-imposed and the deal falls apart, Iran could also withdraw from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), according to analysts. "It's not clear whether that's worth the benefit," Ali Vaez from the International Crisis Group told AFP, warning that the risk of the deal collapsing was increasing as Iran was "running out of measures that are easy to reverse and non-controversial." Tensions were expected to continue to rise, said Francois Nicoullaud, former French ambassador to Iran.
The “dispute resolution mechanism” foreseen in the deal contains several stages but will probably culminate in the UN Security Council voting on whether Iran should continue to benefit from the raising of sanctions as a result of the deal, according to AFP.