World powers 'seriously concerned' over Iranian violations of nuclear deal

World powers that remain party to 2015 nuclear deal acknowledge time is running out to find a way to salvage it.

Elad Benari ,

Diplomats meet in Vienna to discuss nuclear deal
Diplomats meet in Vienna to discuss nuclear deal

The world powers that remain party to the nuclear deal with Iran on Wednesday expressed "serious concerns" Wednesday about Tehran's violations of the pact, while acknowledging that time was running out to find a way to salvage it, The Associated Press reported.

Wang Qun, Chinese ambassador to the United Nations in Vienna, told reporters after talks in Vienna between the parties to the deal, including Iran, that they are “racing against time to work out a specific solution so as to safeguard" the 2015 agreement.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is known, promises Iran economic incentives in return for curbs on its nuclear program, with the goal of preventing Iran from developing a bomb.

However, Iran has gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal in response to US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the agreement in May of 2018.

In one of the moves, the Islamic Republic restarted uranium enrichment at the underground Fordow facility in violation of the deal.

Britain, France and Germany have attempted to save the agreement, but recently triggered the dispute mechanism in the nuclear deal that could eventually lead to reimposing UN sanctions on Iran.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told reporters on Wednesday that Iran still remains "open to any initiative which can ensure Iran's dividends of the JCPOA."

"We are fully prepared to reverse the steps we have taken so far in return for the fulfillment of the other side's commitments in the JCPOA," he said, according to AP.

In a statement following the meeting, the EU's top official for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, said "serious concerns were expressed regarding the implementation of Iran's nuclear commitments under the agreement."

Borrell, who chairs the joint commission of the JCPOA, was represented at the meeting by EU official Helga Schmid.

He said that “participants also acknowledged that the reimposition of US sanctions did not allow Iran to reap the full benefits arising from sanctions-lifting.”

Borrell added that "all participants reaffirmed the importance of preserving the agreement recalling that it is a key element of the global nuclear non-proliferation architecture."