March 4, 2021

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‘Urgent’ for Washington, Tehran to Return to Nuclear Deal, French Foreign Minister Le Drian Says

France’s foreign minister, Jean Yves Le Drian, told the Journal du Dimanche in a Saturday interview that it is “urgent” for the United States and Iran to return to the JCPOA, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.

According to the minister, the campaign of “maximum pressure” against Tehran chosen by the Trump administration did not succeed and “only increased the risk and the threat”.

“This has to stop because Iran and – I say this clearly – is in the process of acquiring nuclear (weapons) capacity”, Le Drian said.

He added that it will not be enough for both sides to simply return to the JCPOA, but also stressed the importance of negotiating “ballistic proliferation and Iran’s destabilisation of its neighbours in the region”.

Biden has pledged to consider the US comeback to the nuclear deal, stressing that his administration will be tightening nuclear restrictions. His officials also noted that the issues regarding Iran’s ballistic missile production must be on table in future negotiations – something that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said was “non-negotiable”.

Recent reports allege that the talks regarding reviving the JCPOA have already begun between Biden officials and Tehran.

A picture taken on November 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag in Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, during an official ceremony to kick-start works on a second reactor at the facility. – Bushehr is Iran’s only nuclear power station and is currently running on imported fuel from Russia that is closely monitored by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

Concerns regarding the urgency of the countries to return to the JCPOA rise as Iran has rolled out its anti-sanction plan, announcing a return to enriching uranium to up to 20 percent purity levels and new production of uranium metal in Isfahan.

The latter has particularly alerted the governments of the United Kingdom, France and Germany. The three countries issued a joint statement on 16 January expressing concerns over the Islamic republic’s ambitions regarding uranium metal, apparently worried that Iran could develop uranium metal in order to come up with nuclear weapons.

“Iran has no credible civilian use for uranium metal. The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA), Iran committed to not engaging in production of uranium metal or conducting research and development on uranium metallurgy for 15 years”, the three countries asserted. “We strongly urge Iran to halt this activity, and return to compliance with its JCPoA commitments without further delay if it is serious about preserving the deal.”

Tehran, however, has repeatedly outlined that it does not intend to create nuclear weapons, emphasizing that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful and justifying the move to step away from the JCPOA commitments with Trump’s unilateral exit from the deal in 2018.

After the outgoing US president withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear agreement, he also imposed harsh new economic sanctions on Iran. Officials from Tehran consistently outline that the US must lift the sanctions before the countries can return to the JCPOA.

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