Europe-Iran nuclear deal quarrel needs more time, says EU chief diplomat

Josep Borrell said all sides wanted to preserve the accord despite complex differences

European Commission Vice-President in charge for High-Representative of the Union for Foreign Policy and Security Policy Josep Borrell speaks during a conference at the 12th European Space Conference in Brussels on January 21, 2020.   / AFP / Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD
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More time is needed to sort out the 'complex' dispute between European countries and Iran over the 2015 nuclear agreement, the European Union’s chief diplomat said on Friday.

Earlier this month Britain, Germany and France triggered the dispute resolution mechanism in the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), after Iran was accused of violating the 2015 accord. It could eventually lead to the reimposition of UN sanctions on Tehran.

Josep Borrell, who is heading up efforts to resolve the dispute, said all sides wanted to preserve the agreement, which was enacted to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons.

“Notwithstanding differences on modalities, there is agreement that more time is needed due to the complexity of the issues involved. The timeline is therefore extended,” said Mr Borrell.

He added that a commission dedicated to resolving the issues would meet again in February.

In 2018 President Donald Trump took the US out of the JCPOA and renewed sanctions on Iran. As a result, Tehran has broken the terms of the 2015 deal.

“All agreed to pursue expert-level discussions addressing the concerns regarding nuclear implementation, as well as the wider impacts of the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA and its re-imposition of sanctions, concerning which all JCPOA participants have expressed regret,” Mr Borrell said.

He previously said the decision from France, Germany and Britain was aimed at saving the nuclear deal and not imposing UN sanctions.