EU’s Borrell extends timeline for dispute mechanism on Iran deal

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FILE PHOTO: Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission holds a news conference in Brussels, Belgium, January 10, 2020. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell on Friday extended the time available to discuss ways to save the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran under a dispute mechanism triggered by France, Germany and Britain.

Britain, France and Germany formally accused Iran on Jan. 14 of violating the terms of its 2015 agreement to curb its nuclear program, which eventually could lead to the reimposing of U.N. sanctions lifted under the deal.

“There is agreement that more time is needed due to the complexity of the issues involved. The timeline is therefore extended,” Borrell said in a statement. Under the agreement between Iran and world powers, Borrell serves as guarantor.

Borrell was notified earlier this month by Paris, London and Berlin that they had triggered the dispute mechanism, in theory starting a 15-day process to resolve issues with Iran.

There are some questions over when the 15-day period should start because Iran has not formally recognized the consultation process, officials have said.

China and Russia are also signatories to the deal signed in Vienna in 2015 and have publicly expressed misgivings about the Europeans’ decision to trigger the mechanism. All sides say they want to save the deal, which U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from in May 2018, reimposing economic sanctions on Iran.

After months of gradual steps to reduce compliance, Iran said on Jan. 6 it would scrap limits on enriching uranium.

Borrell said the joint commission that regulates the Iran nuclear deal will meet in February. He did not give a date.

Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine, Robin Emmott

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