Brussels, 10 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stood by the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran as he headed into crisis talks on the Middle East on Friday with other EU ministers.
“We are of the opinion that the deal makes sense because it commits Iran not to develop nuclear weapons,” Germany’s Heiko Maas said despite Tehran’s announcement that it no longer saw itself bound to its conditions.
The EU wants to hold on to the accord, Maas said, but can only do so if Iran sticks to the terms, which limited Tehran’s uranium-enrichment capacity in exchange for sanctions relief from the United States. Washington has reinstated punitive measures.
The US and Iran only just backed away from the risk of full-blown conflict this week after Washington took out a top Iranian military commander in Iraq, and Tehran retaliated with strikes on military bases used by the US in Iraq.
“The immediate risk of war has been averted in the past few days,” Maas said. “That is an extremely positive development.”
Although the EU doesn’t always agree with Iran, the nuclear deal took 13 years to negotiate, and scrapping it would be the worst possible solution, Luxembourg’s Jean Asselborn said.
“We can’t slip into a no man’s land,” he stressed.
The EU top diplomats are also to discuss on Friday how to curb foreign interference in Libya, which has been engulfed by civil war since the overthrow of dictator Moamer Gaddafi in 2011.
Turkey supports the internationally recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj, which is vying for power with General Khalifa Haftar, who commands the self-styled Libyan National Army and is supported by Russia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.
Russia and Turkey have called for a ceasefire—a move backed by the EU—but Haftar has vowed to keep fighting.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg attended the Brussels talks after the military alliance suspended its training operations in Iraq and temporarily pulled out some of its troops.
US President Donald Trump called on NATO to play a greater role in the Middle East, something Stoltenberg said he would consider.
United Nations envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salame, is also to brief ministers on Friday.
European Council President Charles Michel is to head for Istanbul and Cairo for talks on Libya on Saturday, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel is to head to Moscow to meet with President Vladimir Putin.