PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday asked his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for “clear gestures” and an immediate return to the terms of a landmark nuclear deal with Western powers in a telephone call.
Macron’s office said the French leader also asked Rouhani to fully cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, on inspections, and expressed his “deepest concern” over Iranian violations of the accord.
The 2015 deal — called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — has been hanging by a thread since former US president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from it and reimposed punishing sanctions on Iran in 2018.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed Tuesday that France, Britain and Germany will put forward a resolution at this week’s meeting of the IAEA’s board of governors condemning Iran’s suspension of some nuclear inspections.
The Iranian parliament in December passed a law that called for suspending certain commitments if the US does not lift unilateral sanctions or the three European countries do not help Tehran to bypass those sanctions.
Restrictions on inspections went into force on February 23.
Under the agreement with the IAEA, which runs for up to three months, data from cameras on Iran’s nuclear program will be stored and not handed over to the agency, and if sanctions are not lifted by that time, Tehran will start erasing the recordings.
Earlier Tuesday, Iran warned that a censure at the IAEA could have “adverse effects on diplomatic processes, and can quickly close the windows of opportunity.”
Iran expects “all parties to act rationally and prudently, and to know the value of fleeting moments,” government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters. “We are still committed to diplomacy.”
According to Rabiei, the agreement with the IAEA conveyed Iran’s “goodwill,” and now the Islamic Republic expects other parties to the nuclear deal to “prove” theirs.
US President Joe Biden has signaled his readiness to revive the deal, but insists Iran first return to all of its nuclear commitments, most of which it suspended in response to the sanctions.
Tehran demands Washington take the first step by scrapping the sanctions.
Iran on Sunday dismissed a European offer for an informal meeting involving the US on the deal, saying the time is not right as Washington has failed to lift sanctions.