“The European Union strongly advises avoidance of any “military escalation” against Iran as the United States keeps piling pressure on the Islamic Republic and trying to force other countries to follow suit,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini made said in Brussels on Monday after a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a last-minute visit to Brussels where he met his counterparts from Britain, France and Germany — the three European signatories to the 2015 accord that curbed Iran’s nuclear ambitions in return for sanctions relief — on the sidelines of a regular EU foreign ministers’ gathering.
State Secretary Pompeo reportedly tried to sell Washington’s hard line on the Islamic Republic.
“Pompeo heard that very clearly today from us, not only from myself, but also from the other ministers of EU member states,” Mogherini added.
“We are living in a crucial delicate moment,” Mogherini noted, adding, “We, as you know, as the European Union, always encourage dialog and diplomatic engagement. This has always been our commitment. This is what we are practicing, including with Iran.”
“I think there’s a real concern that an escalation that is unintended could end up with a much more serious situation than we’re fearing,” British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters ahead of the meeting.
Iran last week announced it was suspending some of its commitments under the agreement, a year after US President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord and imposed swingeing sanctions on the Islamic republic — putting the deal in peril.
The deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was backed by the Obama administration but U.S. President Donald Trump branded the pact “a disaster” and pulled out last year.
Adding military dimension to the diplomatic tensions, Washington is sending an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery to the Gulf, having already deployed an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers.