LONDON: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Saturday warned Iran that any further violations of its nuclear commitments would damage talks with world powers next week in Vienna.
In a phone call with his Iranian counterpart Javad Zarif, Le Drian called on Tehran to be “constructive” during the talks in order to “identify in the coming weeks what needs to be done for a full return to respecting the agreement.”
Le Drian told Zarif that he “welcomed the coming resumption in Vienna of discussions on the nuclear dossier,” and that France would take part in next Friday’s talks in a “pragmatic” but “demanding” manner.
“I called on Iran to refrain from any further violation of its current commitments in the nuclear field likely to damage the dynamics of a resumption of discussions,” Le Drian said.
The 2015 nuclear deal saw Iran granted relief from international sanctions in exchange for accepting limits on its program aimed at easing fears that it could acquire atomic weapons.
Former US President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018 and imposed strict and sweeping sanctions on Tehran.
Next week’s talks will involve China, Russia, Germany and the UK. The US will not take part directly in the discussions, but an American delegation will be present.
President Joe Biden has said the US will re-join the agreement if Iran first returns to respecting commitments it abandoned in retaliation for Trump pulling out and re-imposing sanctions.
Tehran has said Washington has to end sanctions before it makes any moves to get back in line, and has refused to hold direct negotiations with the US.
Tehran would reject any “step-by-step” easing of restrictions, its Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, adding that lifting all sanctions is its “definitive policy.”
US State Department spokesman Ned Price called the Vienna talks a “healthy step forward,” and said Washington “remains open” to a direct encounter with Tehran.
* With AFP