France urges Iran to curb nuclear activity, resume talks

Published October 23, 2021
The logo of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is seen at their headquarters during a board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria. — Reuters/File
The logo of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is seen at their headquarters during a board of governors meeting in Vienna, Austria. — Reuters/File

PARIS: France on Friday urged Iran to curb nuclear activities of unprecedented gravity as US and European envoys met to discuss efforts aimed at reviving the troubled 2015 Iran nuclear deal.

US envoy Robert Malley joined counterparts from France, Britain and Germany at the meetings in Paris, at what the French Foreign Ministry called a critical time in efforts to salvage the accord.

It is urgent and crucial for Iran to end the activities of unprecedented gravity that it is conducting in violation of the (agreement) and to immediately resume full-fledged cooperation” with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said in an online briefing.

The IAEA is charged with monitoring the 2015 accord, which was aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear activity in exchange for the lifting of crippling sanctions. The US pulled out of the accord under Donald Trump and re-imposed sanctions.

US, European envoys discuss efforts aimed at reviving 2015 nuclear deal

Since then Iran has stepped up nuclear activity and is now in violation of several aspects of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.

Iran’s nuclear activity includes enriching uranium which Western nations fear could be used to build an atomic bomb. Tehran denies any such ambitions.

The US and European partners are ready to return immediately to negotiations with Iran in order to swiftly conclude an agreement on Iran’s return to its commitments and the United States return to the JCPOA,” Legendre said.

Iran’s new government led by President Ebrahim Raisi, which took power in August, has hinted it will return to the nuclear talks in Vienna but has balked at setting a date.

Long-term solution

The agreement between Iran and world powers to find a long-term solution to the now two-decade-old crisis over its controversial nuclear programme has been moribund since former US president Donald Trump walked out of the deal in May 2018.

His successor Joe Biden has said he is ready to re-enter the agreement, so long as Iran meets key preconditions including full compliance with the deal whose terms it has repeatedly violated by ramping up nuclear activities since Trump walked out.

But the Vienna-based talks through intermediaries made little headway, before being interrupted by the election of hardliner Ebrahim Raisi as Iran’s president and suspended for the last four months.

The French foreign ministry said in a statement that the talks were coming at a “critical time” when France and other world powers were still prepared to return to the Vienna talks on bringing the US back into the deal.

“In the meantime, it is urgent and essential that Iran ends violations of unprecedented gravity” of the nuclear accord, the ministry said, urging Iran to also resume full cooperation with the UN atomic agency “without delay”.

Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2021

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