News ID: 255540
Published: 0213 GMT July 09, 2019

Macron's top advisor in Tehran to ease tensions

Macron's top advisor in Tehran to ease tensions

International Desk

Zarif: Trump lured by allies into killing 2015 nuclear deal

Pence: US does not seek war, ready for talks

Russia urges all parties to stick to JCPOA

French President Emmanuel Macron sent his chief diplomatic adviser to Iran following the Islamic Republic’s decision to enrich uranium beyond the threshold of the 2015 nuclear accord.

The Elysee Palace said that Emmanuel Bonne returned to Tehran to hold talks with Iranian officials today after a daylong visit last month in a bid to deescalate tensions between Iran and the United States.

Iran said on Tuesday that Bonne will meet with Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani during his stay.

A French presidential official said both Iran and the United States had an interest in raising pressure at this stage, but that both sides would want to start talks eventually.

"The important thing in a crisis situation such as this one is to find the middle points that take us from extreme tension to negotiation, that's what we're trying to do," the official said. 

Iran said on Monday it might restart deactivated centrifuges and ramp up enrichment of uranium to 20% purity as its next potential big moves away from the nuclear agreement that Washington abandoned last year.

Spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Behrouz Kamalvandi also said that the country’s uranium enrichment level passed 4.5%, exceeding the 3.67% uranium enrichment cap set by the nuclear deal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said its inspectors verified Monday "that Iran is enriching uranium above 3.67%."

Iran announced the move in recent days in a bid to push European powers to shore up the nuclear agreement and find a practical solution to shield it against US heavy sanctions which were restored after President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal last year in May. 

The European Union on Tuesday urged Iran to reverse its scaled-up uranium enrichment.

"We continue to urge Iran not take further measures that undermine the nuclear deal to stop and to reverse all activities that are inconsistent with the JCPOA, including the production of low-enriched uranium," an EU spokeswoman told reporters, referring to the deal's formal name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said Iran's uranium enrichment above the limit set in the nuclear accord would neither help preserve the agreement "nor secure tangible economic benefits for the Iranian people."

Guterres encouraged Iran on Monday to continue implementing all its nuclear commitments under the deal "as the participants continue to seek ways to overcome the considerable challenges the country faces."

The White House said on Monday that Trump on Monday spoke to Macron about Iran’s enrichment of uranium.

Europe says it wants to salvage the accord between Iran and world powers – Britain, China, France, Germany, the United States and Russia.

The decision to increase uranium enrichment came less than a week after Iran announced it crossed the 300-kilogram limit on its low-enriched uranium stockpile.

Iran has said it will take another, third step within 60 days but has so far held back from formally announcing what that next step would entail.

Macron said over the weekend that he's trying to find a way to resume dialogue between Iran and Western partners by July 15. He spoke Saturday with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Macron said he was very concerned about the "risk of a further weakening" of the nuclear deal and "the consequences that would necessarily follow."

During the hour-long phone call, Rouhani called on European countries to act urgently to save the deal which has been in jeopardy since the US pullout.

"Lifting all sanctions against Iran can start new dynamics” between Iran and six major powers, Rouhani said.


Trump lured


Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Tuesday Trump’s allies had tricked the US president into killing off the nuclear agreement.

Zarif said on Twitter that Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had killed an earlier agreement in 2005 by insisting that Iran stop all uranium enrichment.

“Now they’ve lured @realdonaldtrump into killing #JCPOA (the 2015 nuclear deal) w/the same delusion,” Zarif added.


US offer of talks

US Vice President Mike Pence said on Monday that the United States is willing to talk to Iran about its nuclear program and does not seek war, but said the Trump administration is prepared to protect US interests and lives in the Middle East.

"We hope for the best, but the United States of America and our military are prepared to protect our interests.

"The United States does not seek a war with Iran. We are willing to talk. We are willing to listen. But America will not back down," Pence said at a pro-Israel Christian organization.

Later Monday, Bolton, a longtime advocate of tough measures against Iran, devoted a large portion of his speech at the same event to Iran, noting that the that the US administration will keep increasing pressure on Iran until it “abandons its nuclear weapons program and ends its violent activities across the Middle East.”

Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US has implemented the "strongest pressure campaign in history against” Iran, before adding "and we are not done."


All parties need to comply

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday Moscow is not interested in heating up the situation around Iran and is ready to participate in a ministerial meeting between Iran and the remaining JCPOA signatories.  

"We are certainly not interested in the situation around Iran and in the region, in general, getting heated... We expect Iran to show restraint, but we cannot close our eyes to objective facts, and the facts are that Iran began to enrich uranium above 3.67% to 5%," Lavrov told reporters.

"There are suggestions to hold a ministerial-level meeting. We will be ready for it, but there is understanding that such a meeting should be held after specific agreements are reached, which cannot be seen yet," he said.

In order to overcome the existing tensions, all the participants of the JCPOA should resume compliance with the deal, Lavrov stressed.

AP, Reuters, AFP and Sputnik contributed to this story.   


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