France, China criticize Iran over uranium violation

France, China criticize Iran over uranium violation

Macron demands Tehran reverse its decision to violate nuclear deal, China ‘regrets’ Iranian move, but blames Trump

A view of the heavy-water production plant in the central Iranian town of Arak, August 26, 2006. (AP/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)
A view of the heavy-water production plant in the central Iranian town of Arak, August 26, 2006. (AP/ ISNA, Arash Khamoushi)

China and France on Tuesday both criticized Iran’s announcement that it had exceeded agreed upon limits to uranium enrichment in violation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

French President Emmanuel Macron called on Iran to “immediately” reduce its enriched uranium reserves, while the Chinese foreign ministry said it “regrets” the Iranian move, but blamed the United States for putting pressure on the Islamic Republic.

In a statement, Macron said he had “noted with concern” Tehran’s overstepping of the limit set in the 2015 deal with world powers and called on Iran “to immediately reverse this overshoot and abstain from any other measure that would undermine its nuclear obligations.

Iran said Monday it had made good on its warning that it would breach the enrichment limit, prompting US President Donald Trump to warn that Tehran was “playing with fire.” The US withdrew from the nuclear deal last year and hit Iran with biting sanctions, leading to Tehran announcing on May 8 that it would no longer respect the limit set on its enriched uranium and heavy water stockpiles.

French President Emmanuel Macron arrives at theEuropean Union leaders summit in Brussels on July 2, 2019. (GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

The French leader said he would continue in the coming days to work towards a resolution of the standoff between Iran and the US that would see Tehran “fully respect its obligations and continue to benefit from the economic advantages of the (2015) deal.”

The Chinese said they regret Iran’s decision to exceed a limit on enriched uranium reserves under a 2015 nuclear deal, but said US “maximum pressure is the root cause” of tensions.

“China regrets the measures taken by Iran, but at the same time, we have emphasized on many previous occasions that the US’s maximum pressure is the root cause of the current fraught tensions,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a regular press briefing.

“We call on all parties to view this from a long-term and overall perspective, exercise restraint and uphold the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action  nuclear deal) together so that there won’t be further escalation in the tense situation,” Geng said.

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) meets Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on May 17, 2019. (Thomas Peter/pool/AFP)

Iran had threatened to abandon further nuclear commitments unless the remaining partners to the JCPOA — Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia — helped it circumvent sanctions, especially to sell its oil.

Russia on Tuesday urged Iran not to give in to emotion and instead abide by its nuclear agreements, but urged European countries to “safeguard Iran’s economic interests” and help it sell its oil.

“We call on our Iranian colleagues to show sangfroid, not to give in to emotions by any means and observe key provisions of the IAEA Safeguards Agreement and the Additional Protocol to this agreement,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

He said that Russia would do everything to help preserve the Iran nuclear accord.

“This agreement has special significance for the strengthening of the (nuclear) non-proliferation regime,” Lavrov said, speaking after talks with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney.

But all parties — not just Tehran — have to honor their commitments for the Iran nuclear agreement to be preserved, Lavrov added.

“I would very much want our European colleagues to understand the full measure of their responsibility for preserving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action,” Lavrov said.

Iran announced in May that it would no longer respect the limit set on its enriched uranium and heavy water stockpiles.

The move was seen as a way of exerting pressure on Europe to try and salvage the deal which has been hanging by a thread since US President Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing from the accord and reimposing biting sanctions on Tehran.

On Monday, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Iran had exceeded the limit on its enriched uranium reserves.

European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s spokeswoman, Maja Kocijancic, said Monday that the EU urged Iran “to reverse this step and to refrain from further measures that undermine the nuclear deal.”

Europe “remains fully committed to the agreement, as long as Iran continues to fully implement its nuclear commitments,” Kocijancic said.

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