Macron asks Iran for ‘clear gestures’ on nuclear inspections


Macron’s office said that, in a telephone call, the French leader also asked 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.

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.

Macron’s office said that, in a telephone call, the French leader also asked 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 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 February 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 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 say the European resolution is expected to face a vote on Friday, and that it is backed by the United States.

Current 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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