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Iran pins hope on EU solution to secure interest in nuke deal

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An Iranian senior foreign ministry official said Saturday that the European countries will soon offer a package to protect Iran's interest from the 2015 international nuclear deal, official IRNA news agency reported.

"Three European countries and the EU have pledged to propose a package of practical solutions to secure Iran's interests in the deal," said Abbas Araqchi, a deputy foreign minister, said in a gathering in the capital Tehran.

"We are waiting and hoping to receive the package by the end of this month," said Araqchi, also the senior Iranian nuclear negotiator.

The Europe has demanded Iran to remain in the nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and has vowed to remain committed to it.

Araqchi stressed that due to the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA, the treaty is in critical condition.

He also confirmed Iran is holding talks with the remaining members to the deal to bring the nuclear talks back on the track, warning that otherwise Iran is ready to return to pre-JCPOA era and even beyond.

Earlier this month, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani urged the European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal to take "practical and tangible measures" to protect Iranian interests after the U.S. pullout.

Iran signed the landmark nuclear deal with the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China plus Germany in 2015 to halt its nuclear weapons program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Iran's peaceful nuclear activities and removal of economic sanctions are two main essential pillars of the JCPOA.

"In case of any shake or destruction of the pillars, the whole JCPOA will be demolished," Araqchi said.

U.S. President Donald Trump decided on May 8 to quit the Iranian nuclear deal and vowed to reimpose sanctions, including oil embargo, on Tehran.

"Iran has had intensive talks with the EU, China and Russia at different levels," Araqchi said, adding Tehran has declared that it has not yet made its final decision on staying or leaving the JCPOA and it depends on the Europe in meeting Iran's demands.

Iran's atomic chief dismissed the U.S. demand for "zero enrichment" of uranium in the Islamic republic, Tasnim news agency reported Saturday.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), slammed the U.S. demand as a repetition of Washington's past mistakes.

Salehi made the remarks on Friday at the sidelines of the Oslo Forum in Norway, the leading international network of conflict mediation practitioners.

The nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers that led to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal initially began on condition that the United States abandons the notion of zero enrichment, said Salehi.

He warned that the Middle East and the entire world will face a "dreadful" consequence if the JCPOA collapses under Washington's "unwise and baseless" decisions.

He also urged the EU and other countries to support the JCPOA to adopt practical steps to combat the U.S. policies in this regard.

On Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran will not negotiate with the United States, which fails to keep its word and moves to sabotage multilateral agreements one after another.


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