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Protests in Brussels ahead of Iran nuclear meeting

Protests against the Iranian government are held in Brussels ahead of a meeting between European powers and Iran on the nuclear deal. (AFP)
BRUSSELS: Protests against the Iranian government were held in Brussels on Wednesday ahead of a meeting between European powers and Iran on the nuclear deal.
The meeting on Thursday with Iran foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif comes on the eve of a deadline for the US president to decide whether to reimpose oil sanctions lifted under the agreement.
Iran, Britain, France, and Germany are expected to reaffirm their support for the deal that Donald Trump has rejected, EU diplomats told Reuters.
The deal aimed to curb Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons in return for an end to some sanctions placed upon it.
Donald Trump has sworn to tear up the deal in a tougher stance against Iran than his predecessor. He also strongly supported recent anti-government protests held across Iran that were sparked by economic hardship and corruption but spiralled into calls for the downfall of the clerical leadership.
Members of the Iranian community in Belgium, supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) protested in Brussels against Mr.Zarif’s visit.
The protest was held outside the European Commission and European Council buildings, where the meetings will take place.
The protesters called on the European Union to cancel the meeting and for the EU to support the ongoing protests and regime change in Iran and condemn the killings of demonstrators.
During the meeting convened by the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini, the European powers that helped negotiate the 2015 accord will reassure Tehran they remain committed to it, the diplomats said.
They will also urge Iran to continue to comply with international inspectors.
“The aim is to send a message to Washington that Iran is complying and that it is better to have the nuclear agreement than to isolate Tehran,” one diplomat said.
A spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency said on Wednesday that a reimposition of sanctions by the United States would be a violation of the nuclear deal and added that the Islamic Republic had the capacity to greatly increase its enrichment of uranium.
In October Trump decided not to certify that Tehran is meeting the terms of the pact.
The US president must decide by mid-January whether to continue waiving US sanctions on Iran’s oil exports under the terms of the deal. The State Department said on Tuesday the Trump administration was expected to decide on Friday.