EU wants more time to resolve Iran nuclear dispute

Brussels – The European Union’s top diplomat said Friday that more time is required to unravel a dispute between countries involved in the Iran nuclear agreement, as the Europeans struggle to keep alive a deal hampered by US sanctions.

On Jan. 15, Britain, France and Germany reluctantly triggered the accord’s dispute resolution mechanism to force Iran into discussions on possible violations of the deal. That started a process that could result in the resumption of UN and EU sanctions on Iran if no solution is found.

But EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, who is coordinating the effort to resolve the standoff, said the three European powers involved in the 2015 deal limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for economic incentives agree “that more time is needed due to the complexity of the issues involved.”

“The timeline is therefore extended,” Borrell said in a statement. The dispute mechanism provides for a period of about one month, which can be prolonged if all parties agree, to resolve any disagreement. But Borrell has declined to confirm that the one-month clock has actually started ticking.

Borrell also underlined that during his consultations in recent days all parties that continue to adhere to the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, “reconfirmed their determination to preserve the agreement which is in the interest of all.”