Iran to Discuss Saving Nuclear Deal with European Powers, China and Russia

BRUSSELS, June 20 (Reuters) – Senior officials from Iran, France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia will meet on June 28 in Vienna to discuss ways to save the 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran, the European Union said on Thursday.

The meeting will look at how to “tackle challenges arising from the withdrawal and re-imposition of sanctions by the United States on Iran,” the EU added, referring to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to quit the deal last year.

Senior officials from the six countries will also consider “recent announcements by Iran regarding the implementation of its nuclear commitments,” the EU statement said, referring to Tehran’s threats to exceed limits on its enriched-uranium stockpiles before the end of this month.

The 2015 nuclear pact seeks to head off any pathway to an Iranian nuclear bomb in return for the removal of most international sanctions.

Tehran said in May it would reduce compliance with the nuclear pact in protest at the U.S. pull-out.

Iran has warned the European Union it has very little time to salvage the nuclear accord by providing sufficient economic incentives and circumvent U.S. sanctions that have cut off most oil trade with Iran and pushed its economy into a slump.

The EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini, who helped seal the deal with Iran, said on Thursday it was “important for us to keep Iran fully compliant with its commitments.”

She also pledged to defuse tensions between Iran and the United States “to make sure that an escalation is avoided.”

Worries about a confrontation between Iran and the United States have mounted since attacks last week on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, near the strategic Strait of Hormuz shipping lane.

Washington blamed Iran, and the Pentagon announced the deployment of about 1,000 more U.S. troops to the Middle East, citing concerns about a threat from Iran.

Iran has denied any involvement in the tanker attacks.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott Editing by Andrew Heavens)