‘Window’s about to close’: French foreign minister urges Iran to take nuclear deal

Catherine Colonna also uses presser ahead of UNGA to accuse Russia of ‘rapes, torture and forced liquidation’ in Ukraine, says Paris to convene meet on Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna speaks at a press conference at the French Mission on September 19, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)
French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna speaks at a press conference at the French Mission on September 19, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

UNITED NATIONS — France’s foreign minister is urging Iran to take the last offer on the table to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States and key powers, saying the window of opportunity “is ready to close.”

Foreign minister Catherine Colonna did not rule out that French President Emmanuel Macron would meet his counterpart Ebrahim Raisi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

“We’ll see what this week brings,” she told reporters. “The window of opportunity seems ready to close again.”

“We are repeatedly saying… There is no better offer for Iran,” she said. “It’s up to them to make a decision.”

Raisi, in an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” said he was open to a “good” deal but pressed for guarantees from President Joe Biden that the United States would not again leave the accord under a future leader — a promise that the US administration considers impossible.

Former president Donald Trump pulled out of the 2015 deal under which Iran drastically scaled back nuclear work in return for promises of sanctions relief.

The Biden administration says the deal remains the best way to restrict Iran’s nuclear program, but has been increasingly pessimistic that Tehran will agree to a compromise negotiated by European Union mediators.

In a wide-ranging press conference on the sidelines of this week’s gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly, Colonna also accused Russia of waging unjustified aggression against Ukraine “in a very brutal way” with shelling of civilian targets, violent acts, “rapes, torture and forced liquidation.”

“All of these are war crimes,” she said.

Colonna said France will be convening a meeting Wednesday with UN nuclear chief Rafael Grossi on the precarious state of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southeastern Ukraine. The plant, Europe’s largest, is occupied by Russia.

She said she spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday morning about the need for Ukraine, Russia, and all countries in the world “to avoid a nuclear catastrophe.”

She said Lavrov seemed to be “open to listening to some detailed proposal” by Grossi, who has called for a “nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the Zaporizhzhia plant.

Colonna also called on China to stop its “very aggressive” behavior toward Taiwan. She stressed that “the status quo must not be questioned by China and not by using means that are not peaceful.”

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