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The New Arab Staff

US and Europe to 'remain calm' despite Iranian 'provocations'

Iran’s supreme leader said they could continue to increase enrichment. [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 February, 2021

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US and EU diplomats have said they won't respond to Iranian 'provocations'

The US and its European allies will not respond to recent Iranian provocations in the hope of restarting nuclear talks with Tehran, diplomats have told Reuters.

Iran has restricted UN monitoring teams' access to nuclear sites, threatened to increase its enrichment of uranium, while groups believed to be loyal to Iran have launched rocket attacks on bases in Iraq hosting US soldiers

The US is seeking to maintain a cool head and avoid any retaliatory action that might disrupt efforts to restart talks with Iran, diplomatic sources told Reuters.

The two sides have been in a standoff with Iran demanding the lifting of US sanctions before any negotiations on a new deal commence. 

Sanctions were imposed on Iran by the former Trump administration in 2018, when the former president unilaterally withdrew from a nuclear deal with Tehran. 

"However much they [Iran] believe the US should lift sanctions first, that’s not going to happen," one diplomatic official told Reuters.

The official added that the US will only lift sanctions on Iran once Tehran understands that "the best way and the only way is to get to the table where those things will be discussed".

According to two diplomats, the US and European powers are unlikely to increase pressure on Tehran despite the recent provocations. 

"We have to tread carefully. We have to see whether the E3 [Britain, France, Germany] can juggle Iran’s headlong rush and the US hesitance to see whether we even have a path forward," explained one diplomat. 

Since the arrival of the Biden administration, Iran has accelerated violations of the original deal by enriching uranium to 20 percent - way above the 3.67 percent permitted by the 2015 deal.

Iran's Supreme Leader has suggested that enrichment levels could reach 60 percent if they so wished. 

Read more: Iran, Israel and Turkey: How regional actors filled the Arab Spring's power vacuum

One European diplomat reminded Iran that while the Biden administration kept sanctions in place, leverage remained. 

"Iran has positive signals from the Americans. It now needs to seize this opportunity," the source added.

On Monday, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that the US was "outraged" by recent rocket attacks on coalition forces in Iraq, but said Washington would not "lash out".

Price did warn that the US would respond in due course. "Our patience is not unlimited," Price added.

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