Bangkok Post

Macron asks for clarity on Iran nukes


PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday asked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for “clear gestures” and an immediate return to the terms of a landmark nuclear deal with Western powers.

Mr Macron’s office said that, in a telephone call, the French leader also asked Mr Rouhani to cooperate fully with the UN nuclear watchdog, the Internatio­nal Atomic Energy Agency, on inspection­s and expressed his “deepest concern” over Tehran’s violations of the accord.

The 2015 deal — called the Joint Comprehens­ive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — has been hanging by a thread since former US president Donald Trump pulled Washington out of it and reimposed punishing sanctions on Iran in 2018.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed on Tuesday that France, Britain and Germany will put forward a resolution at this week’s meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors condemning Iran’s suspension of some nuclear inspection­s.

But Iran warned against such a move. “I have to give this warning, that actions against our expectatio­ns will have adverse effects on diplomatic processes, and can quickly close the windows of opportunit­y,” Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters in Tehran.

Iran expects “all parties to act rationally and prudently, and to know the value of fleeting moments,” he added. “We are still committed to diplomacy.”

The Iranian parliament in December passed a law that called for suspending certain commitment­s if the US does not lift unilateral sanctions or the three European countries do not help Tehran to bypass those sanctions.

Restrictio­ns on inspection­s went into force on Feb 23.

Under the agreement with the IAEA, that runs for up to three months, data from cameras on Iran’s nuclear programme will be stored and not handed over to the agency.

And if sanctions are not lifted by that time, Tehran “will start erasing the recordings”.

According to Iranian government spokesman Mr Rabiei, the agreement conveyed Iran’s “goodwill”, and now the Islamic republic expects other parties to the nuclear deal to “prove” theirs.

Diplomatic sources in Vienna said the European resolution is expected to face a vote tomorrow, and that it is backed by the United States.

US President Joe Biden has signalled his readiness to revive the JCPOA, but insists Iran first return to all its nuclear commitment­s, most of which it suspended in response to the sanctions.

Tehran demands Washington take the first step by scrapping the sanctions.

Iran on Sunday dismissed a European offer for an informal meeting involving the US on the deal, saying the time is not right as Washington has failed to lift sanctions.

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