JEDDAH: French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday said that Saudi Arabia should be involved in any new negotiations with Iran about the 2015 nuclear deal.
He added that talks with Tehran would be very “strict,” and warned that little time remains to prevent Iran developing a nuclear weapon, Al Arabiya television reported.
The 2015 deal, more formally knows as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the US, the UK, China, Russia and France — plus Germany and the EU. In 2018, President Donald Trump withdraw the US from the deal and reimposed sweeping economic sanctions on the regime in Tehran. In response, Iran began to breach the limits set by the agreement on uranium enrichment.
New US President Joe Biden has pledged a US return to the deal, but only after Tehran returns to full compliance with its terms.
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have said that Gulf states must be part of any JCPOA negotiations this time, and that the talks must also address Iran’s ballistic-missile program and its support for proxies across the Middle East.
Macron stressed the need to avoid repeating what he called the mistake of excluding other countries in the region from discussions when the 2015 deal was negotiated, according to Al Arabiya.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called on the US and Iran to work together to end the impasse.
“I believe that everyone, all those who entered the JCPOA and other interested parties, must work together to reduce uncertainties, to face difficulties and obstacles,” he said.
“The matter is progressively moving toward a situation where we can have an agreement that is essential for peace and stability in the Gulf and the world.”
Also on Friday, however, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran will not reverse the acceleration of its nuclear-research program until Washington lifts its sanctions.
Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international-relations scholar, pointed out that the White House has said Iran must fulfill its commitments before the US can reach an agreement about sanctions.
“Iran today is practicing brinkmanship,” he said. “It is trying to press the international community. However, Macron has stressed that Saudi Arabia must be included in any negotiations on an agreement with Iran, and has emphasized that Iran is about to possess a nuclear weapon and that should be stopped.”
Al-Shehri also highlighted as important the fact that Macron had warned that the mistake of excluding regional powers from the original negotiations with Tehran for the JCPOA should not be repeated.
“He definitely meant Saudi Arabia when he said regional powers,” he said. “More than five years after the nuclear deal was signed, many things have come into existence and should be taken into consideration. Iranian missiles are now in the hands of terror militias, and that should be taken into account. Saudi Arabia should also be part of the agreement.”
Western powers are taking this issue seriously because they fear that if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon, other countries in the region will follow suit, Al-Shehri said.
“It is difficult for the world to accept the idea of having more and more countries with nuclear weapons,” he added. “The pressure is now to prevent Iran from joining the nuclear club.
“The new US administration is close to the Europeans. If it cooperates with European nations — especially France, Germany and the UK — Iran will lose as it won’t be able to confront the global community. There will be more pressure on Iran and it will comply with its commitments.”