The European Union’s new foreign policy chief said the bloc is doing anything to keep the Iran nuclear deal up and running.
Josep Borrell told Spain’s leading newspaper El País on Sunday that the EU is “grasping at straws” in an effort to salvage the nuclear agreement because the bloc has “the greatest interest” in the survival of the pact.
Borrell, who took over from Federica Mogherini on December 1, urged Iran to stick to the unraveling deal.
“We call on the Iranian authorities to do what they can to keep the pact alive,” he said.
The 72-year-old Spanish diplomat warned that it would be a “big mistake” if Iran does something that can “kill” the agreement.
“We tell our Iranian friends that it is best for them not to let the agreement die,” he said.
The 2015 nuclear accord has been at risk since last year when the United States unilaterally withdrew from it and began reimposing sanctions on Iran.
The three European countries still party to the deal — Britain, France and Germany — as well as the EU have been trying to rescue it but their efforts have so far borne little fruit.
In May, one year after the US pullout, Iran began retaliating by scaling back its commitments to the deal — known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Since then, Iran has taken four steps back from the accord.
The latest was on November 4 when its engineers began feeding uranium hexafluoride gas into mothballed enrichment centrifuges at the underground Fordo plant south of Tehran.
Following the latest step, the European parties and the EU said Iran's decision to resume activities at Fordo was "inconsistent" with the nuclear deal and warned the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism could be triggered if Iran continued down that path.
It covers various stages that could take several months to unfold, but the issue could eventually end up before the UN Security Council, which could decide to reimpose sanctions.
The five-nation commission overseeing the Iran nuclear deal is set to meet in Vienna on December 6, with fears growing that it could collapse. The joint commission is made up of the three European nations and the deal's other remaining parties, China and Russia.
Iran warned Sunday it will “seriously reconsider” its commitments to the UN atomic watchdog if European parties trigger the dispute mechanism.
“If they use the trigger (mechanism), Iran would be forced to seriously reconsider some of its commitments to” the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani.
AFP contributed to this story.