0730 GMT August 22, 2019
France says it will not launch dispute resolution for Iran nuclear deal
France and Iran have agreed to look at conditions for resuming talks to try to save the 2015 nuclear deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday.
The French presidency published a statement in French, saying that Macron spoke for more than an hour with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani during which he expressed "strong concern" about the consequences of abandoning the multilateral accord known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Macron said he was very concerned about the "risk of a further weakening" of the JCPOA and "the consequences that would necessarily follow".
It was unclear exactly what consequences the statement was referring to.
The statement said the two presidents agreed "to explore by 15 July the conditions for the resumption of dialogue between all parties" – beyond a Sunday deadline announced by Iran to increase uranium enrichment purity above the limit set by the nuclear deal.
It did not mention what would happen if dialogue failed to resume by then.
The statement added that Macron would consult with Iranian authorities and international partners to bring about the "necessary de-escalation" of the situation over the coming days.
The nuclear deal was reached between Iran and six world powers -- Britain, China, France, Germany, the United States and Russia -- and saw Tehran agree to drastically scale down its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.
The US began reimposing sanctions in August 2018 and has targeted crucial sectors including oil exports and the banking system, fueling a deep recession.
During the phone call, Rouhani called on European countries to act urgently to save the deal which has been in jeopardy since the US pulled out last year in May.
"Lifting all sanctions against Iran can start new dynamics” between Iran and six major powers, Rouhani said.
Iran has demanded that the Europeans do more to save the deal by ensuring Iran gains economic benefits, notably badly needed oil revenue, which the United States has in particular targeted.
Rouhani said the United States has launched an all-out economic war on Iran by imposing rafts of sanctions on the country.
“The continuation of this economic war could lead to other threats in the region and in the world,” Rouhani warned.
He said that Iran has tried to save the deal through its “strategic patience” despite all US sanctions and pressure, waiting for the other signatories to make good on promised economic benefits.
Rouhani stressed that Iran's action would be reversed if the other parties provided relief from the US sanctions.
The Iranian president has insisted that his country's policies are not meant to "hurt (the deal), but to preserve" it.
Europe has sought to salvage the nuclear deal by setting up a payment mechanism known as INSTEX which is meant to help Iran skirt the US sanctions.
But Rouhani has dismissed the mechanism as "hollow" because it has not facilitated purchases of Iranian oil.
A source at Macron’s Elysee office said on Sunday the French government will not trigger the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution mechanism for now, instead giving itself one week to try to get all parties talking again after Iran decided to enrich uranium above limits agreed in 2015.
“It’s not an option at this moment,” the source said.
The dispute resolution mechanism could eventually lead to the reimposition of United Nations sanctions on Iran.
Macron on Sunday condemned the Iranian announcement, saying the decision was a “violation” of the agreement.
Reuters, AFP, BBC and Press TV contributed to this story.