The French foreign minister has said it urgent that Tehran abides by the terms of the nuclear agreement and Washington returns to the deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
According to the nuclear deal, Iran reached with the 5+1 nations (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), Tehran agreed to put limits on its nuclear activities in exchange for termination of economic and financial sanctions.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian's comments came in an interview published on January 16, just days before President Donald Trump -- who withdrew the United States from the deal -- leaves office.
While Trump quit the nuclear deal and introduced illegal sanctions on Iran in violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, the other parties, including Europeans, failed to protect Iran from U.S. sanctions.
Trump’s successor, President-elect Joe Biden, faces an immediate challenge posed by Iran’s acceleration of its nuclear program, including its move this month to start pressing ahead with plans to enrich uranium to 20 percent fissile strength at its Fordow nuclear plant.
With presidential elections in Iran due in June, Le Drian said it was urgent to tell the Iranians that their enrichment activities have gone far enough and to bring Iran and the United States back into the accord.
On January 4, the same day that Iran started the 20% uranium enrichment, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet, “We resumed 20% enrichment, as legislated by our Parliament. IAEA has been duly notified. Our remedial action conforms fully with Para 36 of JCPOA, after years of non-compliance by several other JCPOA participants. Our measures are fully reversible upon FULL compliance by ALL.”
Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been rising since Trump withdrew the United States from the deal in 2018, arguing that it did not go far enough, and started imposing crippling sanctions as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at forcing Iran to negotiate a new accord.
"The Trump administration chose what it called the 'maximum pressure' campaign on Iran. The result was that this strategy only increased the risk and the threat," Le Drian told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.
"This has to stop because Iran and --I say this clearly -- is in the process of acquiring nuclear [weapons] capacity."
Tehran has always denied pursuing nuclear weapons, saying its nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has issued a decree banning the production, proliferation, and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), including nuclear arms. The Leader has said such weapons are religiously haram (forbidden).
Biden has said he will return the United States to the deal if Iran resumes strict compliance with it. Iran says sanctions must be lifted before it reverses its nuclear decisions.
Le Drian also said that even if both sides were to return to the deal, it would not be enough.
The French foreign minister said, "Tough discussions will be needed over ballistic proliferation and (what he called) Iran's destabilization of its neighbors in the region."
The top French diplomat made no mention that Western countries are providing lethal weapons to Israel - which makes repeated military threats against Iran - and Persian Gulf Arab states. In new moves, the U.S. has agreed to sell F-35 fighter jets to the UAE and some other regional states that change the balance of power in the region.
Separately, European powers on January 16 warned Iran against starting work on uranium metal-based fuel for a research reactor, saying it contravened the nuclear deal.
"We strongly encourage Iran to end this activity and return to full compliance with its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action without delay, if it is serious about preserving this agreement," France, Britain, and Germany – three European countries party to the nuclear deal - said in a joint statement.
Despite Trump’s efforts, the Iran deal has not collapsed completely. If Biden can give Iran the sanctions relief it was promised, he can likely reassemble the deal.— Carnegie Endowment (@CarnegieEndow) January 15, 2021
In @ForeignPolicy, @james_acton32 explains why reviving the JCPOA is Biden’s best option: https://t.co/ifu5uSWsym
The statement added that Iran has “no credible civilian use” for uranium metal.
“The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications,” the statement said while noting that under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran committed to not engage in the production of uranium metal or conduct research and development on uranium metallurgy for 15 years.
Actually, Iran embarked on the new nuclear policy aimed to restore the balance of rights and obligations in the nuclear deal that has long been implemented one-sidedly by Iran. The policy is aimed at persuading the European signatories to the nuclear deal that their poor track record in implementing their commitments under the deal is no longer acceptable to Iran.
Iran made the nuclear move after years of pursuing talks with the Europeans to convince them that if they really want to maintain the JCPOA, there is no other way than normalizing economic ties with Iran as envisioned by the JCPOA.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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