Iran told to mitigate nuclear programme concerns

Paris: Britain’s Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, said European powers were determined to save a nuclear agreement with Iran and assuage American concerns over it, but he warned that Iran also needed to mitigate Western concerns over its regional activities during a conference Thursday in Paris.

“We and our European partners are absolutely clear. We want the deal to succeed,” Burt said.

“We don’t want to see the JCPOA (deal with Iran) go down and are working with our European partners to mitigate concerns the United States may have to ensure it continues.”

Negotiations between Europeans and the US officials to meet Trump’s conditions are ongoing.

The first challenge the Europeans face is dissecting divergent US statements about what Trump wants to keep issuing “waivers” to US sanctions.

Without the waivers, which expire May 12, the US sanctions return, effectively killing the deal.

“Iran also needs to avoid taking actions which threaten regional security,” Burt said, pointing to claims that Tehran has supplied ballistic missiles to Al Houthi militants in Yemen.

Iran backs Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in his country’s almost seven-year-old civil war, Shiite militias in Iraq, Al Houthi militias in Yemen and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia.

Speaking at the same conference, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said that the West must ensure the Iran 2015 nuclear deal succeeds before trying to negotiate other issues, a senior Iranian official said in a rare public suggestion Tehran could discuss matters such as its regional activities or missile programme with world powers.

“Now they ask Iran to enter discussions on other issues. Our answer is clear: Make the (deal) a successful experience and then we discuss other issues,” told a conference in Paris on Thursday, referring to the United States and its European allies.

It was not immediately clear whether Araqchi’s suggestion was in complete alignment with powerful hardliners in the Islamic Republic’s factionalised governing institutions who are intensely suspicious of any talks with the West.

Araqchi added that the Iran policy of US President Donald Trump’s administration was “destructive” and violated the terms of the nuclear deal with six world powers.

With Trump warning of a last chance for “the worst deal ever negotiated”, Britain, France and Germany are working on a plan to satisfy him by addressing Iran’s ballistic missile tests and its regional influence while preserving the 2015 accord.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of a Euromoney conference in Paris, Araqchi said there was no link between its influence in the Middle East region and the accord, under which Iran restricted its production of enriched uranium – a potential source of nuclear bombs as well as civilian energy – in exchange for a removal of international sanctions.

Iran has repeatedly refused to discuss its missile programme as demanded by the United States and the Europeans.

Trump’s ultimatum has effectively put the deal on life support until mid-May.


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