European Union foreign ministers hold emergency meeting on Iran crisis, nuclear deal

European Council to Iran Avoid ‘irreversible acts

EU Council chief defends Iran deal after Trump call to quit it

Foreign ministers of the European Union are scheduled for a rare emergency meeting on Friday afternoon, but they will distrust any diplomatic punishment amid signs of scaling down Washington and Tehran after the murder of an Iranian general in Baghdad by the United States and Tehran's retaliation missile strikes on Iraqi bases.

In an attempt to avoid an escalation between Iran and the United States, EU leaders have intensified diplomatic activities, trying to keep alive the nuclear deal while making sure the USA -led anti-IS coalition continues to operate in Iraq.

In a televised address from the White House, Mr Trump seemed intent on de-escalating the confrontation with Iran, triggered by a U.S. drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani, the head of the elite Iranian Quds Force.

On the sidelines of EU Foreign Minister's meeting on the issue of U.S. -Iran hostility, at Brussels, the French Finance Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on RTL radio: "If they continue with unravelling the Vienna agreement, then yes, within a fairly short period of time, between one and two years, they could have access to a nuclear weapon, which is not an option", France24 reported.

On Monday, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell called an extra session of the Foreign Affairs Council to discuss the current situation in the Middle East following the killing of Iran's top military commander Qasem Soleimani in a United States drone strike and Tehran's retaliatory attack on American military facilities in Iraq.

But the U.S. president turned up the pressure on United States allies, including the UK, demanding they abandon what he called a "defective" nuclear agreement with Iran and calling on Tehran to unilaterally cease uranium enrichment that could lead to an atomic weapon.

"The use of weapons must stop now to give space for dialogue", she said on Wednesday.

Hours before Mr Trump's remarks, Boris Johnson said the deal remains the "best way of preventing nuclear proliferation in Iran". "There can not be enough of that".

Yesterday's meeting did not discuss triggering the deal's dispute resolution mechanism, which could ultimately lead to the UN Security Council reimposing sanctions on Iran.

On Sunday, the government announced it would abandon limitations on enriching uranium, taking a further step away from its commitments under the nuclear deal with major world powers.

The agreement is created to halt Iran's nuclear program, but the country said on Sunday - following the assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani - that it no longer felt compelled to stick to its terms.

But the regime fears massive reprisals from the USA if they hit back too hard and this week's missile attack on United States bases in Iraq caused no casualties.

However, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a phone call Thursday that Iran is willing to fully restore its nuclear commitments if the European parties to the agreement "go back to their [own] commitments" and help Tehran circumvent USA sanctions, his office said in a statement.

Asked whether there was still a chance that the deal could survive if Iran started to uphold its commitments, he said: "There is an opportunity to build on this deal".

He urged Tehran "to return its commitments" under the 2015 agreement struck with the US, Britain, Germany, France, Russia and China.

Trump said the agreement was insufficient and should be renegotiated because it didn't address Iran's ballistic missile program or its involvement in regional conflicts.

But Iran's decision on Monday to eliminate the limits imposed on its nuclear enrichment under the arms control agreement has also left European powers in an awkward position.

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