Iran presses European Union on measures to salvage nuclear deal

But that has proven hard, with European companies frightened away by U.S. sanctions.

Signatories Britain, France, Germany plus the European Union, Russia and China have been trying to salvage the deal after Trump's decision but Iran has warned that if it suffers as a result the reintroduction of USA economic sanctions, it could walk away from the accord.

"We have not decided yet to stay in the deal", said the Iranian official, who briefed a small group of reporters under ground rules of anonymity.

The lead Iranian nuclear negotiator, deputy foreign minister Abbas Araghchi, said after Friday's talks that "the achievement was a united position by all participants" to try to save the deal.

Pompeo also outlined 12 United States tough demands for Iran, including halting its uranium enrichment and closing its heavy water reactor, for any "new deal" with Tehran.

"We expect the (economic) package to be given to us by the end of May", a senior Iranian official said earlier, adding that Tehran was "weeks" away from deciding whether to quit the pact.

He said that in theory the deal could survive without the U.S., but acknowledged "in practice I'm not sure".

"We were always told there is a Plan B", the official said.

The Iranian diplomat added, the Islamic Republic needs a guarantee it will be able to continue to sell its oil on world markets, have worldwide banking access and broad trade protections.

Washington has threatened not only to reimpose sanctions but to make them even tighter.

Mr Pompeo said the U.S. would inflict the "strongest sanctions in history" on Iran unless it agreed to 12 American demands, including withdrawing from Syria and halting its funding of militant groups like Hizbollah and Hamas.

The IAEA, however, is "encouraging (Iran) to go above and beyond the requirements" of the deal in order to boost confidence, said a senior diplomat in Vienna, where the IAEA is based. "We'll try to cling to the deal, but. we're under no illusions".

Iran's supreme leader set out a series of conditions on Wednesday for Iran to stay in the deal.

The official said time was running out and that if Iran was not satisfied with European efforts, Tehran would seek a ministerial meeting before making its decision.

The 2015 accord rests on lifting sanctions and allowing business with Iran in exchange for Tehran curbing its nuclear program.

France's President Emmanuel Macron wants to complement the nuclear deal with negotiations between over other issues, an idea cautiously received by Russian President Vladimir Putin during talks in St Petersburg on Thursday.

The tone of the demands appear to be a response to a speech by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said Behnam Ben Taleblu, Iran researcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, which opposed the 2015 deal negotiated by President Barack Obama.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says new USA demands from Iran are totally unacceptable, vowing that Moscow will continue to work towards maintaining the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). They have said that as long as Tehran meets its commitments, they would remain in the deal.

The official noted that the International Atomic Energy Agency on Thursday reported Iran had complied with limits on the level to which it can enrich uranium, its stock of enriched uranium and other items.

  • Tracy Klein