PARIS: France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned Iran on Friday not to come to the next round of talks on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with a “sham” negotiating stance, a day after Paris urged the board of the UN atomic watchdog to send Iran a tough message.
Tehran had earlier responded to Paris by saying the International Atomic Energy Agency, which verifies Tehran’s compliance with the 2015 deal with world powers limiting Tehran’s nuclear program, must be “free of any political conduct.”
The statements highlighted rising tension before the US, Iran and world powers resume indirect negotiations on reviving the deal on Nov. 29, five days after a meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors.
Western diplomats say time is running low to resurrect the pact, which then-US President Donald Trump abandoned in 2018, dismaying the other world powers involved — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia.
Six rounds of indirect talks were held between April and June. The negotiations were interrupted after the election of a new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, who has said Iran will not back down in the talks.
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Paris warned Tehran over what US and European diplomats view as unrealistic demands, including a call for all US and EU sanctions imposed since 2017 to be dropped.
The foreign minister told Le Monde newspaper Paris wanted first to establish whether talks would resume where they ended in June.
“If this discussion is a sham, then we will have to consider the JCPoA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) empty,” he said, referring to the 2015 deal.
“The United States is ready to return to the negotiations where they left off in June, so that they can be concluded quickly. We will assess from the 29th and in the following days whether this is also the Iranian will.”
France said on Thursday a strong message should be sent to Iran over its nuclear activities and a lack of cooperation.
The US envoy for Iran warned that Tehran was approaching the point of no return for reviving a nuclear deal after it boosted its stocks of enriched uranium before talks resume this month.
Robert Malley said Iran risked making it “impossible” to gain any benefit from resuming the agreement, which has been on hold since then president Donald Trump walked away in 2018.
Tehran said the IAEA must not be politicized.