The latest developments in the Iran-US standoff came as a diplomatic source in Vienna said Tehran would not exceed a uranium stockpile limit agreed with world powers, contrary to what it had said earlier this month.
Iran had said it expected to surpass on Thursday the agreed 300-kilogram (660-pound) maximum reserve of enriched uranium because it no longer felt bound by certain limits contained in the 2015 deal, which the United States unilaterally pulled out of in May 2018.
“They won’t exceed it today,” the diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP in Vienna on the eve of a meeting by a commission that oversees the nuclear deal.
The source suggested there might be a “political reason” for this, given intensified efforts by European governments in recent days to de-escalate tensions in the Gulf region.
The tensions, sparked by Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, were exacerbated earlier this month when Iran shot down a US spy drone over the strategic Gulf after a series of tanker attacks that Washington blamed Tehran for despite its denials.
Short war is illusion:
“‘Short war’ with Iran is an illusion,” Zarif wrote on Twitter a day after Trump said he does not want a war with Iran but warned that if fighting did break out, it “wouldn’t last very long”.
The Iranian foreign minister added: “Whoever begins war will not be the one ending it.”
On Wednesday, Trump hinted that any conflict would be waged with air strikes, saying there would be no US boots on the ground.
In an interview on Fox Business Network, Trump was asked if America was going to go to war with Iran.
“Well, I hope we don’t but we’re in a very strong position if something should happen. We’re in a very strong position,” Trump said.
Many European countries have been alarmed at the Trump administration’s hawkish approach to Iran, fearing the US policy of “maximum pressure” is counterproductive and could lead to war.
Any NATO involvement in the Gulf would need unanimous support from all 29 member states, and given European unease this would be extremely difficult to achieve.
“We would like to see more calm from the two actors but we really don’t want this to become a NATO issue,” said a diplomat from the alliance in Brussels.