Iran piles pressure on European Union to salvage nuclear deal

Parties Meet Amid Slim Hopes of Saving Iran Nuclear Deal

Ahead of the meeting, a senior Iranian official said that the Islamic Republic expects a package of economic measures given by the European powers as a compensation for the United States withdrawing from the nuclear deal. Rather, the 12 demands, along with the threat of economic sanctions, are part of Washington's aggressive negotiation strategy and are meant to increase Tehran's fears that regime change might eventually occur.

Iran's supreme leader set out a series of conditions on Wednesday for Iran to stay in the deal.

The 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers lifted worldwide sanctions on Tehran in return for it agreeing to curbs on its nuclear programme.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's remark on Tehran's right to uranium enrichment is inadmissible.

Over the course of the talks, Kerry gave in on virtually every point - not only giving Iran a path to a bomb, but also the financial clout to step up its support for Hezbollah and to build bases in Syria, from which it now threatens Israel. "The JCPOA defined the problem with Iran as being only the nuclear issue".

A senior European Union official said after the meeting that the bloc could not "give guarantees but we can create the necessary conditions for the Iranians to keep benefiting from the sanctions lifting under the JCPOA and to protect our interests and continue to develop legitimate business with Iran".

Intensive talks with the Europeans are now underway, though the official says too much time was wasted by European diplomats who focused on trying to change Trump's mind about the pullout.

Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov struck an upbeat note, saying: "We have all chances to succeed, provided that we have the political will".

"I must tell you that the JCPOA is a major global asset".

"We expect the (economic) package to be given to us by the end of May", a senior Iranian official said earlier, adding that Tehran was "weeks" away from deciding whether to quit the pact.

He added that the possibility of referring back to the matter back to the United Nations "was not discussed during this meeting". Agency Director General Yukiya Amano was invited Friday by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Joint Commission to address the group on his agency's findings.

According to a report seen by AFP Thursday, an International Atomic Energy Agency report shows Iran is still abiding by the deal's key restrictions on its nuclear facilities in return for relief from damaging economic sanctions. With the re-imposition of such sanctions, Iran will no longer have any incentive to stick to its part of the nuclear deal.

The unnamed senior Iranian official rejected any attempt to link the JCPOA to other such issues.

"Another solution that some promote is for Iran to go out of NPT or at least reconsider and revisit our nuclear doctrine", the official said.

He said that in theory the deal could survive without the USA, but acknowledged "in practice I'm not sure".

Before today's talks, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei issued five demands to the EU-including Europe guaranteeing Iran's oil will be completely sold-that European leaders could find quite hard to meet.

However, several Iranian officials warned that the Vienna meeting would be devoted to the existing agreement only, implying that there was no question of broadening the discussions.

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