France does not have any viable ‘Plan B’ to replace the internationally-backed nuclear agreement with Iran, Emmanuel Macron has admitted, as the deadline looms for US President Donald Trump to decide whether to scrap the deal.
“I don’t have any Plan B,” Macron told Fox News on Sunday, explaining that, while the 2015 agreement is not “perfect,” he sees no “better option.”
“Let’s preserve this framework because it’s better than the sort of North Korean type of situation,” the French leader said.
With the May 12 deadline to re-certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) looming, Donald Trump has repeatedly warned that Washington will unilaterally pull out unless some critical “flaws” of the deal –such as the absence of limits on any ballistic missile program– are not fixed. The State Department even sent a diplomatic mission to the UK, Germany and France to rally support for its plan to amend or to scrap the agreement, the “spirit” of which Tehran is accused of breaching.
On Sunday, Macron urged the White House to abide by the UN-backed nuclear accord. While admitting that the range of Tehran’s missiles remains a concern for France, he noted, however, that the ballistic program issue is indeed not covered by the JCPOA.
“I’m not satisfied with the situation with Iran. I want to fight against ballistic missile. I want to contain their influence in the region,” Macron told Fox television. “My point is to say, don’t leave now [the] JCPOA as long as you don’t have a better option for nuclear and let’s complete it with ballistic missile and a regional containment.”
Adopted by Iran and the so-called P5+1 –China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany– the JCPOA stipulates that Tehran must reduce the number of its uranium enrichment centrifuges by two-thirds, cap the enrichment grade below the level needed for weapons-grade material, and reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent for 15 years. In exchange, some of the decade-old sanctions imposed on Tehran, emanating from allegations of a secret nuclear weapon program, were lifted. Tehran’s compliance with the 2015 agreement was then repeatedly confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a UN nuclear watchdog.
Despite Trump’s persistent threats to scrap the deal, Tehran refuses to renegotiate the delicate agreement, which took years to reach, and is rejecting any supplementary and one-sided terms that could undermine it.
“Iran has many options. But if the benefits of the deal for Iran start to diminish then there is no reason for Iran to remain in the deal. Because it’s not acceptable for us to have a one-sided agreement,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a CBS-aired interview on Sunday. “What is important is for the Europeans to bring the United States into compliance, because Iran has been in compliance with the deal.”
Amid the uncertainty, Russia and China have repeatedly warned the US against unilaterally revising the agreement, which, they argue, would hurt global security.
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