The FINANCIAL — French President Emmanuel Macron has urged his U.S counterpart, Donald Trump, to stick with the 2015 nuclear agreement between Iran and six world powers as long as there is no better option.
Speaking in an interview ahead of a three-day state visit to the United States starting on April 23, Macron said that he had no “Plan B” for the nuclear deal.
Trump has set a May 12 deadline to either improve or scrap the accord providing Iran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its atomic program.
The U.S. and French presidents are expected to address the issue when Trump hosts Macron next week.
“Let’s present this framework because it’s better than the sort of North Korean-type situation,” Macron told Fox News.
He also said that that he wants to “complete” the nuclear accord by addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program — a key demand of Trump — and working to contain Iran’s influence in the region, according to RFE/RL.
The U.S. president has said that Iran is violating the “spirit” of the nuclear agreement — which was negotiated under his predecessor, Barack Obama — by continuing to test ballistic missiles, sponsoring militant violence in the region, and by supporting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Trump has called on European powers to “fix” what he says are the “terrible flaws” of the deal, and demanded that new restrictions to be imposed on Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs.
The other powers in the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia — have urged Washington to remain in the pact, saying it is the best way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
Tehran has always claimed that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
On April 21, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned that his country was prepared to resume its nuclear program “at much greater speed,” if the United States withdrew from the nuclear deal.
“We have put a number of options for ourselves and those options are ready, including options that would involve resuming at a much greater speed our nuclear activities,” said Zarif, who was in the United States to attend a United Nations meeting.
In separate remarks to reporters in New York on April 21, Zarif stressed that Iran was not seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb.
But he said Tehran’s “probable” response should the United States quit the accord would be to restart production of enriched uranium — a key ingredient to the making of a nuclear weapon.
“America never should have feared Iran producing a nuclear bomb, but we will pursue vigorously our nuclear enrichment,” he said.
Macron also called on Trump not to pull troops out of Syria after the final defeat of the extremist group Islamic State, saying that would “leave the floor” to Iran and the Syrian president.
A senior U.S. administration official told reporters that the Syrian conflict, Iran’s “malign activities in the region,” and its nuclear and missile programs would be among the topics discussed by foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized states meeting in Toronto on April 22-23.
The G7 comprises the United States, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan.
With reporting by CBS, AP, AFP, Reuters, and the BBC