Britain, France and Germany launch dispute over Iranian nuclear activity

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The US has accused Huawei and other Chinese companies of breaching sanctions on Iran

Mr Johnson said Britain had played its " traditional role" in serving as the bridge between the "European powers and the United States". Tehran noted that it would proceed to enrich uranium based on the technical requirements of its nuclear industry, but stressed that it would continue to cooperate with the IAEA.

The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany said in a joint statement on Tuesday they "have been left with no choice" but to start the mechanism stipulated in the 2015 deal. Triggering the mechanism amounts to formally accusing Iran of violating the terms of the agreement.

The move makes it more hard to keep the agreement alive.

Tehran had no immediate response to the E3 action, but earlier in the day Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif accused London, Paris and Bonn of appeasing the Washington and blindly following the USA lead. He was quoted Tuesday by the official IRNA news agency.

"UN sanction snapback could exhaust whatever leverage Europe retains without producing any gains, and closing the door on Europe's ability to even mediate tensions between Iran and the U.S.", he wrote.

The three countries said they would not join "a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran" championed by US President Donald Trump.

European diplomats stressed the move was not being taken to reimpose sanctions, but to try to find some way to press Iran to come back into compliance with the deal.

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On the other hand, Iran could respond to this "pressure tactic" by in turn further stepping up its nuclear programme and leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which would be a "major turning point", Geranmayeh said.

Under the mechanism, if the party accused of failing to live up to its commitments does not resolve the complaint against it, the party or parties that triggered the mechanism can cease their own commitments to the JCPOA, notify the UN Security Council, or both. The US has imposed extra territorial sanctions making it near impossible for European firms to trade with Iran and not risk swingeing US fines.

Iran has long accused the Europeans of reneging on promises to protect its economy from United States sanctions.

"Our goal is clear", German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

Instead, they said, they were committed "preserving" the agreement and held a "sincere hope of finding a way forward to resolve the impasse through constructive diplomatic dialogue".

And we have worked tirelessly with our global partners to preserve the agreement. "We call on Iran to participate constructively in the negotiation process that is now beginning".

Following the announcement, Russia's ambassador to global organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov, tweeted that he hoped the decision wouldn't "complicate the situation further".

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After months of announcing gradual steps to reduce compliance, Iran said on January 6 it would scrap all limits on enriching uranium, but would continue co-operating with the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told the BBC Tuesday the original agreement with Iran was flawed and should be renegotiated.

"If we're going to get rid of it, let's replace it and let's replace it with the Trump deal", Johnson said.

The British broadcaster reports that it did not appear that Johnson was suggesting to scrap the 2015 accord, just that he wants to alter the deal in a way that would bring the US back into it. He described the pact as a "significant achievement" and underlined that "there is no alternative to this agreement".

He said: "The regime can take steps to de-escalate tension and adhere to the basic rule of global law or sink deeper and deeper into political and economic isolation". Or sink deeper and deeper into political and economic isolation.

We urge Iran to work with us to save the deal.

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