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France's Macron 'considers' trip to Iran after Rouhani invite
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Oct 13, 2017

The 2015 Iran nuclear deal
Tehran (AFP) Oct 13, 2017 - US President Donald Trump on Friday declared a more aggressive strategy on a nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers but stopped short of withdrawing from the 2015 deal.

Struck in Vienna by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany, the deal established controls to prevent Tehran from developing an atom bomb.

It was a breakthrough that ended a 12-year standoff with the West over Iran's disputed nuclear programme, and led to a partial lifting of international sanctions on Tehran.

Here is some background about the deal:

- 21 months of talks -

Talks on Iran's nuclear programme start in 2013 after newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani gives the go-head, with the agreement of the country's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

By November, an interim deal is agreed, freezing some of Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for minor sanctions relief.

It is finalised in April 2015 and signed in Vienna on July 14 that year, ending 12 years of crisis and 21 months of negotiations.

The deal is adopted by the UN Security Council on July 20, 2015 and comes into force on January 16, 2016.

- Main points -

The accord brings to a minimum of one year, for at least 10 years, the "breakout time" that Iran needs to produce enough fissile material to make an atom bomb.

Tehran agrees to slash the number of uranium centrifuges, which can enrich uranium for nuclear fuel as well as for nuclear weapons, from more than 19,000 to 5,060, maintaining this level for 10 years.

All enrichment is to take place at the Natanz facility only and Iran's pre-deal stockpile of 12 tonnes of low-enriched uranium -- enough for several nuclear weapons if further enriched -- is to be reduced to 300 kilogrammes (660 pounds) for 15 years.

Only enrichment to low purities is allowed, also for 15 years.

Iran's Arak reactor is to be redesigned so that it does not produce weapons-grade plutonium, the alternative to highly enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon.

- Controls -

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is charged with regular inspections of facilities such as uranium mines and centrifuge workshops for up to 25 years.

The agency says in September that Tehran is sticking to the terms of the deal. Its staff had conducted at least 400 inspections of sites in Iran and 25 snap inspections, it says.

- Sanctions eased -

The deal paves the way for a partial lifting of international sanctions on Iran, opening the door for foreign investors, with French energy giant Total and carmakers PSA and Renault quick to strike deals.

UN embargoes on conventional arms and on ballistic missiles have been maintained up to 2020 and 2023 respectively.

- 'The worst deal'? -

Trump has railed against the deal struck by his predecessor and vowed to tear it up, deriding it as one agreed to out of "weakness".

At a much-anticipated White House speech on Friday, the US president said he was refusing to certify the deal and warned Washington may yet walk away from "one of the worst" agreements in history, leaving its fate in the hands of Congress.

The nuclear deal, Trump said, had failed to address Iranian subversion in its region and its illegal missile program.

French President Emmanuel Macron is considering visiting Iran after speaking by phone with his Iranian counterpart as US President Donald Trump said he was "decertifying" the nuclear deal with Tehran, the Elysee presidential office said Friday.

Macron told Iranian President Hassan Rouhani that France remained committed to the 2015 nuclear agreement which, besides the United States, was also negotiated with Britain, China, Russia and Germany.

"A trip to Iran by the president, at the invitation of President Rouhani, has been considered," the Elysee said, while the Iranian presidential website said the visit would happen next year.

Macron said the US decision "will not put an end to the Iranian nuclear accord and that together all the parties in France and its European partners will continue to meet their commitments."

Rouhani assured Macron that Iran in turn "will continue to carry out its commitments" in the nuclear accord, the Elysee said.

The French leader added that it was also necessary to have a dialogue with Iran on other strategic issues including Tehran's ballistic missile programme and stability in the region.

Macron also spoke to Rouhani of his "wish to work with Iran for a lasting political solution to the Syrian crisis." Tehran is a supporter of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Macron's visit to Iran would be the first by a French head of state or government since 1971. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian is set to travel to the Islamic Republic in the next few weeks.

Earlier Friday the leaders of France, Germany and Britain issued a joint statement saying they were "concerned" about Trump's decision while reiterating their commitment to the deal.

France urges US Congress not to cancel Iran nuclear deal
Paris (AFP) Oct 14, 2017 - France on Saturday urged the US Congress not to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, after President Donald Trump decertified Iran's compliance with the 2015 agreement.

"We strongly hope that Congress, which is now responsible for a possible rupture, does not jeopardise the deal," French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in an interview with AFP.

"If we denounce a deal that has been respected, it will set a dangerous precedent," particularly in the context of negotiations with North Korea, Le Drian said, echoing other signatories of the Iran deal Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia.

On Friday, Trump ignored the advice of worried allies and kicked the fate of the landmark 2015 deal to Congress, which he told to address its "many serious flaws".

Under the deal a number of international sanctions against Tehran were lifted in return for Iranian curbs on its uranium enrichment.

The Republican-controlled Congress will now have to decide whether to reimpose sanctions on Iran -- a step that if taken would almost certainly doom the agreement.

"For us, the Vienna accord is a good accord, it limits nuclear proliferation and prevents Iran from acquiring atomic weapons. It is robust and coherent," said Le Drian.

However he left the door open to further talks on what happens after a deadline in 2025, when certain limits on Iran's uranium enrichment are set to expire.

Washington would like to see the curbs extended in perpetuity.

"We can open a preliminary discussions with Tehran on what happens after 2025. If the treaty is respected, Iran can fully exercise its rights under the non-proliferation treaty. If safeguards or inspections are required on this date, we will start discussing them. It is also a way to avoid breaches today. We are ready to consider these issues with the Americans," said Le Drian, who will visit Tehran in the coming weeks.

Asked if Europeans would be willing to impose sanctions against Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps, as Trump has requested, Le Drian said "we can talk about it".

More generally he said that recent decisions by the US -- to withdraw from UNESCO and the Paris climate agreement, as well as jeopardising the Iran deal -- have called multilateralism into question.

"The American position today is a position of strength... of rivalry between powers and a denial of the interests of multilateralism," he said.

IAEA chief confirms Iran complying with nuclear deal
Rome (AFP) Oct 9, 2017
The UN atomic agency chief on Monday affirmed Iran's commitment to a 2015 nuclear deal, in a statement that came as US President Donald Trump said Tehran was not living up to the "spirit" of the agreement. "I can state that the nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the (nuclear agreement) are being implemented," International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano said in pre ... read more

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