“Is this agreement perfect and this JCPOA a perfect thing for our relationship with Iran? No. But for nuclear – what do you have? As a better option? I don’t see it,” Macron said.
Macron also warned that if the nuclear deal would fall apart, Iran’s nuclear programme could become an issue similar to that of North Korea, which has obtained and tested nuclear weapons in recent years.
“What is the plan B?” Macron asked in reference to the nuclear deal.
“Let’s preserve this framework [rather] than some sort of North Korean type of situation,” he added.
Trump, who has called the JCPOA the “worst deal in history”, has said he will scrap the nuclear deal unless “a better option” is presented to him in May, when a deadline on renewing the deal will pass.
The 2015 Iran nuclear deal was struck between the US, under the administration of Barack Obama, Iran and five other countries. It prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons while offering sanctions relief to allow the nation to participate in international commerce and banking.
Under US law, the president is required to renew the waiver on sanctions every 120 days. The last time Trump issued a waiver was in September 2017.
In October of last year, Trump refused to recertify that Iran was in compliance with the agreement, saying it was “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into”.
That decision came despite the UN having certified Iran’s compliance with the deal eight times. In November, the body again said Iran was in compliance.
Other talking points
Macron, who is seen as one of Trump’s closest European allies after Trump attended the Bastille Day celebrations last year, said in the interview he will also speak to the US leader about the recent trade tariffs imposed by Trump in an effort to reduce its trade deficits.
On 1 May, a deadline regarding the tariffs set by Trump will expire. Asked about the risk of these looming tariffs, Macron said Trump should focus on other things other than a trade war with Europe.
“I hope he will not implement new tariffs and that he will exempt Europe. You don’t make trade wars with your allies,” he said.
The French president also talked about the role of the US in Syria.
Trump has said repeatedly he plans to withdraw from Syria as soon as possible once the Islamic State in Syria and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group is defeated, but Macron said even after ISIL has been defeated, the US should play a role in the war-torn country.
“We will have to build the new Syria after the war, and that’s why I think the US role is important,” he said.
“The day we will have finished this war against ISIS, if we leave we will leave the floor to the Iranian regime, [Syrian President] Bashar al-Assad and his guys.”
Macron will arrive in Washington today for a three-day visit, which includes a state dinner with Trump.
It will be the first time Trump receives a head of state at the White House.