Tehran (dpa) – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Monday called on Iran to uphold the 2015 nuclear deal as he began a visit aimed at salvaging the agreement following the exit of the United States. “We know that there are economic advantages that were promised to Iran and that are difficult to realize without the Americans,” Maas said in Tehran. “But I think there are also political and strategic interests in maintaining this agreement and thus the dialogue with Europe. That must also be recognized in Tehran.” Maas is expected to meet his counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, as well as Iranian President Hassan Rowhani during his visit. Last year, US President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal – negotiated under his predecessor Barack Obama and aimed at preventing Tehran from developing nuclear weapons – and tightened sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking sectors.
The move increased economic pressure on Tehran and placed European countries eager to uphold the deal in a bind. Last month, Rowhani said that Iran would also begin partially withdrawing from the nuclear deal, citing the US exit and the sanctions. He set a deadline of July 7 for the remaining signatories – China, Russia, Germany, France and Britain – to guarantee the deal’s economic benefits for Iran and neutralize US sanctions. Tensions between the United States and Iran have flared up in recent weeks after Washington dispatched a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Gulf. The US has also accused Iran of responsibility for attacks on four tankers docked off the Emirati port city of Fujairah last month, while Tehran has denied responsibility and said the attacks were aimed at stirring tensions in the region. US officials have indicated they perceive Iran and Iranian allies as a threat to their interests in the wider Middle East.