The European signatories to a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers have warned that the landmark pact could fall apart, as they called for the resumption of dialogue amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran.
France, Britain and Germany warned in a joint statement on Sunday that the deal signed on the same date four years ago could collapse following renewed sanctions on Iran by the United States, which unilaterally withdrew from the deal last year. Iran has subsequently decided to no longer respect some of its obligations.
"The risks are such that it is necessary for all stakeholders to pause, and consider the possible consequences of their actions," the joint statement released by the French president's office said.
"We believe that the time has come to act responsibly and to look for ways to stop the escalation of tension and resume dialogue."
The accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in Vienna by Iran, the US, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia.
Tensions escalated between Washington and Tehran when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Iran - including on its key banking and oil sectors - that had been lifted under the pact.
In response, Tehran announced in May it would scale back its commitments to the deal despite calls by the European parties to the pact to continue its full compliance. Since then, Tehran has increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium above the agreed limit and has begun to enrich uranium above the 3.67 percent permitted under the agreement.
At a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, the European countries are expected to seek to defuse the tensions, which culminated in a plan for US air raids on Iran last month that Trump called off at the last minute.
"The deal is on the brink. The message on Monday will be to show EU unity, but make it clear to Iran that it needs to come back into line," a European diplomat was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency. "For now nothing is reversible so we have more room for diplomacy."
Meanwhile, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Sunday pointed the finger at the Europeans, as Tehran continues to demand that they help it bypass US sanctions.
"There is a serious difference between doing something and announcing your willingness," Iranian state TV quoted him as saying.