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Europe

France: Tehran’s threat to resume nuclear development 'bad reaction'

media French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said that Tehran's threat to resume nuclear work as a "bad reaction", calling on Tehran to show "political maturity."

The remarks came after Tehran announced it imposed a deadline of 60 days to signatories of the 2015 nuclear deal to comply with it – if not Tehran itself would walk away from it.

 

"Iran has had a bad reaction, faced with a bad US decision to withdraw from the Vienna agreements and impose sanctions," Le Drian said in an interview published online by Le Parisien, referring to the 2015 deal signed in Vienna.

"It is a pity that the United States is not honouring its commitments, Iran must show its political maturity," Le Drian added.

 

Tehran imposed the deadline on the first anniversary of US President Donald Trump’s decision to break the Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action (JCPOA) that was signed on July 14, 2005 between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (US, UK, France, Russia and China) and Germany, the so-called “P5+1”

 

Under the deal, Iran agreed to get rid of its stockpiles of medium-enriched uranium, cut its amount of low-enriched uranium with 98 percent and reduces the number of its gas centrifuges for 13 years.

It also promised that it would enrich uranium to a maximum of only 3.67 percent until 2030.

 

In exchange, the UN would gradually lift a series of economic sanctions that it has imposed in Iran.

 

“Worst, horrible, laughable”

 

But US president Trump was never a fan of the deal, calling it “worst, horrible, laughable,” saying that it didn’t do enough to prevent Iran from building an atomic weapon.

 

US hardliners stressed that Iran is a “global sponsor of terrorism” and complained about its long-range missile program.

 

In May 2018, Trump unilaterally walked away from the deal and, a few months later, re-imposed sanctions.

 

Sanction wavers that some countries enjoyed (including China and Japan), allowing them to continue purchasing Iranian oil and other products, expired on May 1 this year.

“The aim of the US government to [slow down] Iran’s economy and the have seen some success,” says Foad Izadi, a political observer with University of Tehran, contacted by RFI.

“Iran’s currency has devaluated, inflation is high, Trump has been succesful in forging hardship for the Iranian people.

But in spite of the sanctions, the regime didn’t fall. “The aim of the Trump administration was either to overthrow the Iranian government, resulting in regime change, or they wanted important concessions from Iran. And they have failed on both accounts,” says Izadi.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had been lobbying the US government intensively to cancel the JCPOA, welcomed the development.

 

But some in Israel disagreed with Trump and Netanyahu’s fierce opposition ot the JCPOA.

“The result of the declaration of Trump not to recognize the agreement [was] more against the policy of Obama and some support of what the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was preaching,”  Uzi Eilam, a former Director General of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission told RFI.

“It was not encouraging any discussion between the US and the Europeans and the Chinese and the Russian members, signatories of the agreement.

“It did not encourage any discussion with the Iranians.

“So after one year or even more of this and by bringing back the sanctions no wonder that Iran is behaving the way it is.

Europe’s reluctance

 

China and Russia continued to support the JCPOA from the outset. Europe was caught between sticking to the deal and being loyal to its strategic partner Washington.

 

In January this year, France Germany and the UK established the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (Instex) that allowed companies to perform non-US Dollar trade with Iran and avoid US sanctions.

 

Instex allows trade without using the international SWIFT payment system.

 

With Instex, the European partners gave a clear signal to Washington that they approved of the Iran deal, which is seen as fundamental to keep stability in the region.

 

But Iran is impatient, and wants more commitment from the European JCPOA partners.

“Iran pulls out of the nuclear agreement step-by-step,” says Izadi.

“Iran waited one year waiting for Europe to implement the nuclear agreement, now Iran is taking the matter in its own hands step by step and it is up to Europe to decide what’s in their interest.”

Talking about the increasingly hostily US rhetoric coming out of Washington, Le Drian, the French foreign minister, warned against a "bellicose spiral", stressing the "responsibility" of the Americans and the importance of dialogue with Tehran.

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