France vows to seek stronger Iran deal, with or without US
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France vows to seek stronger Iran deal, with or without US

2015 nuke accord 'still has its virtues' and Tehran 'respects it,' says defense minister

French Defence Minister Florence Parly speaks during a press briefing following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee palace in Paris, on February 8, 2018. (LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP)
French Defence Minister Florence Parly speaks during a press briefing following the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee palace in Paris, on February 8, 2018. (LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP)

PARIS, France — Paris will continue to push for a broader deal aimed at ensuring Iran complies with a landmark 2015 deal curbing its nuclear program, “whether the United States participates or not,” France’s defense chief said Tuesday.

“This agreement is not the best one in the world,” Defense Minister Florence Parly told RTL radio.

“But without being perfect, it still has its virtues… and they (the Iranians) are respecting it,” she said.

US President Donald Trump is widely expected to announce at 2 p.m. Washington time on Tuesday that he is pulling out of what he has called a “very badly negotiated” deal with Tehran and will possibly reimpose economic sanctions.

France, Britain and Germany — the European signatories of the accord — have been urging the US not to back out, while agreeing that more needs to be done to curb Iran’s ballistic missile development and what it calls its destabilizing policies in the Middle East. A spokesperson for the Kremlin told reporters Tuesday that there would be “inevitable harmful consequences” if the US withdrew from the agreement.

“Iran is a power that is looking to exercise its influence across the region. That is why it’s involved in Syria,” where it is supporting President Bashar Assad against opposition rebel groups, Parly said.

But the Iranian presence has increased tensions with nearby Israel, which has carried out several strikes on targets in Syria in recent weeks ,according to non-Israeli media sources.

“We can see that any escalation… that could lead Iran not to respect the deal that was signed, including by the United States, would only aggravate what is already a very tense situation,” Parly said.

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