Signatories held meeting in last attempts to salvage nuclear deal; Iran claims all “determined to save this deal”; Iran refers to UK’s European naval force in Strait of Hormuz as “obstacle” for Iranian oil; AEOI head: Iran enriched 24 tons of uranium, not 300 kg.

Signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) met with their Iranian counterparts in Vienna on Sunday in another attempt to salvage the nuclear deal. Representatives from the EU, China, and Russia, attended the meeting, which Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araghchi claimed the “atmosphere was constructive, and the discussions were good” and that the signatories are “determined to save this deal.”

On Sunday, Araghchi denounced the UK’s proposal to deploy a European naval force in the Strait of Hormuz, stating, “The countries who are part of the nuclear deal shouldn’t create obstacles for the export of Iranian oil.” Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt called for a “European-led maritime protection mission to support the safe passage of both crew and cargo in this vital region,” following Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps capture of the Stena Impero tanker.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani was quoted recently claiming that “The presence of foreign forces will not help the region’s security and will be the main source of tensions…”

Iran has now increased its enriched uranium and heavy water production at both the Natanz and Arak plants, blatant violations of the nuclear deal. Earlier this month, it announced it would consider next increasing the number of permitted centrifuges as a third major violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action as well as uranium enrichment to 20% from the permitted 3.67% under the nuclear deal. This week, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi admitted that Iran violated the nuclear deal from the beginning, reporting “Iran enriched 24 tons of uranium, not 300 kilograms,” the amount agreed upon in the deal.

Iran continues to demand Europe to find a solution for its crippling economy due to the United States’ sanctions. The latest sanctions issued are targeting Iran’s Supreme Leader, his office, and other Iranian government officials. The United States also recently deployed 500 of 1,000 to Saudi Arabia at Prince Sultan Airbase south of Riyadh, a base with the Patriot missile defense systems and F-22 jets. This week, the United States and Israel confirmed it successfully tested the Arrow 3 missile in Alaska amidst growing threats from Iran.

As the crisis in the Persian Gulf intensifies, Bahrain is expected to host a maritime security summit this fall. Participants of the Warsaw Conference and more, approximately 65 states, are expected to attend the summit later in 2019.