TEHRAN, Iran — In his first phone call with a Western leader, the new president of Iran asked his French counterpart Monday to help secure Iran’s “rights” in now-stalled talks to revive Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers.
Ebrahim Raisi, the hardline cleric and protégé of Iran’s supreme leader who took office last week, told French President Emmanuel Macron that the US and European Union must implement their commitments under the landmark 2015 deal, the official IRNA news agency reported.
France, alongside the US, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China, was part of the original 2015 nuclear agreement and has played a prominent role as an intermediary.
“In any negotiation, the rights of the Iranian nation should be secured and guaranteed,” Raisi said, criticizing the US for abandoning the accord and reimposing crushing sanctions under former president Donald Trump.
Six rounds of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers were held in Vienna between April and June in an attempt to revive the accord. The last round concluded on June 20, with no date set for another.
Iranian officials have said that negotiations would not resume before the new government takes over, while an EU official said over the weekend that meetings could resume in Vienna from early September.
Macron, for his part, called on Iran to “quickly resume negotiations in Vienna in order to get to a conclusion and put an end without delay to all the nuclear activities it is carrying out in breach of the agreement,” the French government statement said.
In the days before Raisi’s inauguration, the region saw a series of escalations, including an explosive-laden drone attack on an Israeli-linked ship off the coast of Oman that killed two crew members. The West has blamed Iran for the assault, though Tehran has denied involvement.
The MT Mercer Street, an oil products tanker operated by Israeli-controlled Zodiac Maritime, was struck on July 29 off Oman’s coast. Two crew members, a Briton and a Romanian, were killed.
Iran has warned Israel not to take military action against it, after its arch-foe threatened Tehran over the tanker attack.
“The Islamic Republic is very serious about providing security and maintaining deterrence in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman Region,” Raisi told Macron, without referring directly to the incident or the accusations.
Iran “will confront elements that deprive the region of its security,” he added.
On Lebanon, France’s former colony where Iran wields great influence through its patronage of the Hezbollah terror group, Raisi thanked Paris for its support to the country during its historic financial crisis. He said Iran welcomes anything that advances “the stability, security and improvement of the economic situation of Lebanese people.”