French President Emmanuel Macron has asked his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, for “clear gestures” and an immediate return of Tehran to the terms of its nuclear deal with world powers, according to his office.
Macron made a telephone call to Rouhani on Tuesday, days after Iran’s foreign ministry ruled out holding an informal meeting with the United States and European countries to discuss ways to revive the landmark 2015 accord, insisting that Washington must first lift all its unilateral sanctions.
A statement by Macron’s office said the French leader also asked Rouhani for Iran’s full cooperation with the United Nations nuclear watchdog on inspections and expressed his “deepest concern” over Iranian violations of the deal that was signed in Austria’s capital.
“Having reminded [Rouhani] of the efforts made by France with its partners in the last years to reach a negotiated solution, the [French] head of state stressed it was important that Iran made clear and immediate gestures so that dialogue can resume with all parties to the Vienna deal,” the statement said.
The accord – officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – saw Iran curtail its nuclear programme in exchange for a gradual easing of international sanctions. But it has been hanging by a thread since former President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the United States out of it in 2018 and reimposed punishing sanctions as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign against Tehran.
Since then, Iran has stepped up its nuclear work in violation of the JCPOA.
The Biden administration has said it wishes to restore the deal, but it insists Iran must return to all the commitments it started to roll back in response to Trump’s move before sanctions can be lifted.
Iran, however, has said the only way forward is for the US to revoke its “inhumane and illegal” sanctions – a position Rouhani repeated in his call with Macron, according to several Iranian media reports.
Last month, Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of its decision to stop implementing a number of “transparency measures” that it was previously adhering to voluntarily.
The UN watchdog’s director, Rafael Grossi, visited Tehran and reached a temporary deal on issues including the continued monitoring by IAEA of its atomic programme for up to three months.
Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said the so-called additional protocol, which had enabled the IAEA to carry out snap inspections at undeclared locations as part of the 2015 nuclear deal, will be completely suspended.
No access will be given to the nuclear watchdog beyond safeguards of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the organisation stressed.