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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Iran nuclear deal countries meet in Tehran

Closed-door encounter follows Iran announcement to boost uranium enrichment capacity

French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk during the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia, Bulgaria on 17 May 17. All three leaders will send representatives to the closed-door meetings in Tehran. Stoyan Nenov / Reuters 
French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and German Chancellor Angela Merkel walk during the EU-Western Balkans Summit in Sofia, Bulgaria on 17 May 17. All three leaders will send representatives to the closed-door meetings in Tehran. Stoyan Nenov / Reuters 

Experts from the countries still in the Iran nuclear deal were holding a scheduled meeting in Tehran on Thursday, with the accord hanging in the balance after the United States withdrew.

The closed-door encounter involving representatives from Iran, Britain, China France, Germany and Russia as well as the European Union had long been on the cards, but comes as tensions rise after Tehran announced a plan to boost uranium enrichment capacity.

"It is one of the technical meetings that are held regularly," a diplomatic source said, adding that it would focus on economic issues.

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The remaining parties to the landmark 2015 deal are scrambling to save the agreement after US President Donald Trump abandoned it last month.

The US move to reimpose sanctions - lifted under the accord that aims to ensure Tehran will not develop a nuclear bomb - has meant many investors who returned to the country have started to wind down operations.

Iran raised pressure on European diplomats seeking to rescue the pact by announcing on Tuesday it has launched a plan to boost uranium enrichment capacity with new centrifuges.

The EU said a first assessment indicated the new steps did not constitute a violation of the agreement, but warned they did "not contribute to building confidence".

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Iran on Wednesday that its plan to increase its uranium enrichment capacity took it close to a "red line".

Iran insists its nuclear programme is for civilian uses only, but opponents in the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia accuse it of seeking to build an atomic bomb.

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