France defends Iran nuclear deal, Trump to decide soon
France made a fresh plea on Monday for the United States to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and suggested its provisions expiring after a decade could be strengthened, as U.S. President Donald Trump said he would decide on the matter soon.
If Trump, who as recently as on Thursday accused Iran of violating “the spirit” of the deal, chooses not to certify, the pact could unravel, possibly triggering a regional arms race.
Asked whether he planned to stick with the agreement, Trump told reporters as he began a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday: “You’ll be seeing very soon.”
The Republican president has called the agreement, struck under his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama, “the worst deal ever negotiated.”
The prospect of Washington reneging on the agreement has worried some of the U.S. allies that helped negotiate it, especially as the world grapples with another nuclear crisis, North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development.
“It is essential to maintain it to avoid proliferation. In this period when we see the risks with North Korea, we must maintain this line,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told reporters.
“France will try to convince President Trump of the pertinence of this choice (keeping the accord) even if work can be done to complement the accord after 2025,” he said.
Trump must decide in October whether to certify that Iran is complying with the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). If he does not, Congress has 60 days to decide whether to reimpose sanctions waived under the deal.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Sunday that Tehran would react strongly to any “wrong move” by Washington on the nuclear deal.
French President Emmanuel Macron will meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after Trump to tell him that Tehran must play its role in not stoking American anger through its activities in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, a French presidential source said.
After meeting Netanyahu on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, the U.S. president was to see Macron, who, like Trump, is making his inaugural appearance at the annual gathering of world leaders.
They have very different messages to deliver.
“I look forward to discussing with you how we can address what you rightly called a terrible nuclear deal with Iran and how to roll back Iran’s growing aggression in the region, especially in Syria,” Netanyahu said before he and Trump began meeting.