French foreign minister in Iran amid missile criticism

UN Nuclear Watchdog: Iran-Accord Failure Would Be 'Great Loss'

UN Nuclear Watchdog: Iran-Accord Failure Would Be 'Great Loss'

France's foreign minister visited Iran on Monday on a delicate mission to affirm European support for the nuclear deal that eased the isolation of Iran's oil-based economy, while echoing US concern about Tehran's ballistic missile tests and role in Middle East conflicts such as Syria.

The top French diplomat is scheduled to hold talks with his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, and President Hassan Rouhani during the day-long visit. Le Drian's office says a key part of the trip will be diplomacy over the war in Syria and trying to get Iran to use its influence on Syrian President Bashar Assad to agree to a cease-fire.

The official called for the acceleration of implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal, internationally known as JCPOA, signed in 2015 between Iran and the P5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany).

Trump has been a vocal critic of the Iran deal since his 2016 campaign and, in January, waived new sanctions against the Islamic Republic for what he said was the last time.

On May 12, Donald Trump is expected to decide whether to continue waiving sanctions under a United States law.

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"If the JCPOA were to fail, it would be a great loss for nuclear verification and for multilateralism".

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is tasked with monitoring Iran's compliance with its obligation, has verified Iran's compliance with the deal in 10 reports.

Iran is not allowed to enrich uranium beyond 3.67 percent fissile purity under the deal, a level that is suitable for fuelling some civilian nuclear power stations and far short of the 80-90 percent that is considered weapons grade.

That continued with Iran's armed forces spokesman Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, who this weekend said Tehran only would give up its missiles when the West abandons nuclear weapons.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly threatened to withdraw the United States from the landmark 2015 agreement, and a year ago refused to confirm to Congress that it is in America's national security interest.

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Le Drian said that Paris is determined to implement the JCPOA and has taken many practical measures in this regard.

In the meantime, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani on Monday urged the European countries not to bend under the U.S.

"We want to preserve the nuclear deal because it is working, it's robust and because the Iranians are respecting it", his team told AFP ahead of the visit.

"Any move to undermine the JCPOA would result in the loss of credibility of other global agreements, " Shamkhani said.

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