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The leaders of Europe are hoping to guide the United States and Iran away from confrontation, knowing that a miscalculation from either side could result in a devastating war and a serious nuclear proliferation crisis.

According to Aljazeera, European Union foreign ministers are set for a rare emergency meeting on Friday afternoon, but will be wary about meting out any diplomatic punishment amid signs of de-escalation from Washington and Tehran following the US killing of an Iranian general, and Tehran's retaliatory missile strikes.

If it is proven that a Ukrainian airliner was this week downed by an Iranian missile, that will likely complicate matters again for the diplomats.

"Iran's desire to prevent the crisis from escalating has bought us some time, it has the effect of cooling this down just a little," a senior EU diplomat told Reuters news agency.

On Monday, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell tweeted his regret at Iran's decision to step away from more aspects of the nuclear deal, which, he said, was "now more important than ever".

But Iran's decision on Monday to scrap limits imposed on its nuclear enrichment under the arms control accord has also left the European powers in an awkward position.

Iran, which says its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes, has already breached many of the restrictions under the deal, intended to increase the amount of time Tehran would need to accumulate enough fissile material for an atomic bomb from two to three months to about a year.


European leaders
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