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France warns Iran must accept nuclear deal within days or face ‘serious crisis’

French foreign minister says Iran has a ‘clear choice’ in the coming days; Tehran says it wants to see US Congress issue statement on commitment to possible agreement

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart in Qatar's capital Doha, on September 13, 2021. (Karim Jafaar/AFP)
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaks during a joint press conference with his Qatari counterpart in Qatar's capital Doha, on September 13, 2021. (Karim Jafaar/AFP)

PARIS, France — Iran has days left to accept a deal on its nuclear program at talks in Vienna, France said on Wednesday, warning that a major crisis would be unleashed if there is no agreement.

“It is not a question of weeks, it is a question of days,” said French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. “They [Iran] have a very clear choice, either they unleash a serious crisis in the next days… or they accept an agreement that respects the interests of all the parties,” he told the French Senate.

A media adviser to the Iranian delegation said, “We are very near to a deal, many issues have been solved,” according to Al Jazeera.

Earlier Wednesday, Iran urged the US Congress to issue a “political statement” that Washington will stay committed to a possible agreement.

The 2015 accord offered Tehran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program, but then-US president Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed heavy sanctions.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian urged the US to provide a guarantee on the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, in an interview with the Financial Times published on his ministry’s website.

“As a matter of principle, public opinion in Iran cannot accept as a guarantee the words of a head of state, let alone the United States, due to the withdrawal of Americans from the JCPOA,” he said.

He said he had asked Iranian negotiators to propose to Western parties that “at least their parliaments or parliament speakers, including the US Congress, can declare in the form of a political statement their commitment to the agreement and return to the JCPOA implementation.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian is seen before meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow, on October 6, 2021. (Kirill Kudryavtsev/ Pool/ AFP)

The Vienna talks involve Iran as well as Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia directly and the United States indirectly.

They aim to return the US to the nuclear deal, including through the lifting of sanctions on Iran, and to ensure Tehran’s full compliance with its commitments.

“Iran’s commitments are as clear as a mathematical formula,” said Amir-Abdollahian.

“It is absolutely clear what we are supposed to do and how these measures will be verified through the IAEA,” he said, adding that the other parties need have “no concern.”

“But we remain concerned primarily about the guarantees” from the US side, he said, adding that “we are facing problems during this period because the other party lacks a serious initiative.”

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a ceremony at the Knesset on Wednesday that the US and Israel are allied in the face of the threat from Iran.

“We are together in the fight against terrorism posed by Iran, both in the region and also its nuclear development. The nuclear threat by Iran is a global one. It is a threat to the world,” Pelosi said.

“Israel’s proximity to Iran is a concern to all of us and a responsibility for all of us,” she said.

In an unusual step, Israeli diplomats traveled to Vienna to meet Tuesday with negotiators involved. Israel is not a party to the discussions, and has said it reserves the right to act as it sees fit against Iran’s nuclear program regardless of the negotiations’ outcome.

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