Written by Rishabh Jain
Emergency talks were held in Vienna this week to discuss the Iran nuclear deal and to ease rapidly rising tensions in the Persian Gulf. Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, said after his meeting with British, French, German, Chinese, and Russian officials that the “discussions were good”. Tensions began to rise in May 2018 after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement, commonly referred to as the Iran nuclear deal, and reimposed US sanctions on Tehran.
The other nations who had signed the deal after painstaking negotiations alongside the American administration of President Barack Obama, censured President Trump’s action, and vosed to remain committed to the deal. American sanctions caused Iran’s currency value to plunge with inflation rates spiralling upwards as oil prices dropped. Iran, which felt betrayed by the western powers restarted the nuclear programme that it had paused as part of the JCPOA. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran had exceeded the 300 kg limit on low-enriched uranium production that it had agreed to in return for the lifting of sanctions under the 2015 agreement. Tehran also threatened to breach other production limits if the sanctions remained.
In June, Iran shot down an American drone, and the US this month destroyed an Iranian drone that it claimed had come too close to an American warship in the region. There were tensions between Tehran and London as well, after Britain seized an Iranian tanker that it alleged was transporting oil to Syria in violation of international sanctions. Iran, which denied the accusation, impounded a British vessel that it claimed was “violating international maritime rules”. Britain later sent a second warship to escort its ships sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, a key global oil passage.
This week’s meeting was held after Britain, France, and Germany issued a joint statement stating that it was “time to act responsibly and seek a path to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue”. The emergency conference was arranged to ease rising tensions in the Gulf, and attempt to resolve differences through diplomatic channels. The key focus of the talks was to ensure that the Iran nuclear deal remains intact.
China, which is currently in the midst of a trade war with the US, said at the end of the meeting that all nations had “expressed their commitment to safeguard the JCPOA and… expressed their strong opposition against the US unilateral imposition of sanctions”. Araghchi said: “I cannot say we resolved everything, I can say there are lots of commitments.”
(Rishabh Jain is a student in England and a summer intern at The Indian Express)