Zarif praises Macron’s proposals on Iran’s nuclear crisis

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (VOP TODAY NEWS) — Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in an interview with AFP on Friday that French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposals to try to make progress in the crisis over the Iranian nuclear deal are “in the right direction”, but more efforts should be made.

“President Macron submitted proposals last week to President (Rouhani) Rouhani, which we believe are moving in the right direction, although we have not yet reached our goal,” Zarif told AFP after meeting Macron in Paris.

“We had good talks today,” he told AFP at the Iranian ambassador in Paris. “We discussed the possibilities. He will now discuss with European and other partners to see in what direction we can go from here.”

The meeting between Zarif and Macron took place on the eve of the three-day G7 summit in Biarritz, southwestern France, with the participation of US President Donald Trump. The Iranian nuclear issue is expected to be a major topic of discussion.

Tensions over Iran’s nuclear program have escalated in recent months after Trump pulled out of a 2015 deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran. Tehran responded by halting its commitment to certain provisions of the deal.

Iran is trying to pressure Europeans seeking to maintain the deal to get them to take measures to circumvent US sanctions that are hurting its economy and causing the Iranian people “enormous suffering,” Zarif said.

It has threatened to abandon other commitments if other parties fail to help them bypass US sanctions, particularly those related to the sale of oil and gas.

The Europeans are trying to persuade Washington to ease sanctions on Iranian oil to get Tehran to respect the deal again.

– Washington doesn’t hold all the cards. ”

Zarif reiterated that if Iran were to prove that Europe would begin to comply with its obligations under the nuclear deal, it would then stop the measures it had taken to activate its nuclear program.

“When Europe begins to fulfill its commitments, Iran will also be ready to reverse the steps it has taken,” he said.

Clarifying these suggestions, Zarif declined to give details, saying only that Europe should find ways to ease pressure on Iran even if the United States was no longer a party to the deal.

France, Germany and Britain have introduced a mechanism known as “Instex” in order to facilitate the continuation of dealing with Iran despite the US sanctions, but Iran has so far made little gains.

“We are looking for ways in which Europe can actually implement its commitments so that we can go back on the steps we have taken,” Zarif said.

“The important thing for us is to be able to continue to do business with the European Union.”

He explained that what is being discussed is how to do this “with or without the United States.”

Addressing Europe, he said the issue could be settled even without US commitment to the nuclear deal.

“I don’t think the US is holding all the cards,” he said. “If Europe and the international community decide to do so, they can in fact take the necessary measures to maintain the agreement.”

The agreement reached between Tehran and the P5 + 1 (the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany) aims to limit Iran’s nuclear activities to verify that it is not seeking to acquire the bomb, in exchange for lifting part of the sanctions.

– Accidents & Events –

The escalation of tension in recent weeks in the region Iran seized three foreign ships in the Gulf, including “Stina Imperio” flying the British flag, while an Iranian oil tanker was detained in Gibraltar.

British authorities in Gibraltar allowed the ship to continue sailing, rejecting a US request to extend its detention on suspicion of transporting oil to Syria, in breach of European sanctions.

Zarif condemned “the US harassment of our ships in international waters and the prevention of freedom of navigation.”

But he refused to specify the destination of the oil tanker Adrian Daria, which left Gibraltar.

“We will not announce its destination because the United States will further sabotage our economic activities,” he said.

Zarif stressed that Iran did not want war with the United States, but warned that the intensification of the Western naval presence in the Gulf increased the risk of accidents that analysts say may have triggered a large-scale confrontation.

“Obviously, bringing ships to the Persian Gulf … will not increase security … but the likelihood of accidents and incidents.”

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