Iran must curb missile program or face sanctions, says top French diplomat

Hannah Rogers
March 8, 2018

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency says a deal between Iran and six other nations aimed at ensuring Tehran doesn't develop atomic weapons mustn't fail.

The Iranian foreign ministry on Sunday dismissed Le Drian's concerns, stressing that Tehran will "continue its defense policies independently".

"Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies' agreement to fix the awful flaws of the Iran nuclear deal", Trump said in a statement.

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.

Ahead of Le Drian's trip, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying he would pursue "a frank and demanding dialogue with Iran", including over its ballistic missile program and its belligerent regional activities.

"There are programmes for missiles with ranges of several thousand kilometres which are not in line with UN Security Council resolutions and go beyond what is needed to secure Iran's borders", Le Drian told Le Journal du Dimanche on the eve of his visit.

The hardline Javan newspaper welcomed Le Drian with the headline: "Trump's Parisian lackey in Tehran".

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"The Iranian authorities told me of their heavy concerns on the humanitarian situation in Syria and their desire to see an end to this catastrophe", Le Drian told reporters.

Since taking office, Trump has accused Iran of committing "multiple violations" under the JCPOA and threatened to withdraw the United States from the agreement.

Iran's missiles can now hit any point in the Middle East, including Israel and U.S. military bases, as well as parts of Europe.

Despite Le Drian's tough talk on missiles, France remains firmly behind the agreement.

Kamalvandi, reiterating Tehran's official stance, said the nuclear deal is not re-negotiable.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano, whose agency is verifying Iranian compliance with restrictions on its disputed uranium enrichment work imposed by the deal, has long called the pact a "net gain" for nuclear verification, since it has provided the IAEA with more thorough oversight of Iran. The United States and the Europeans (.), particularly in the banking sector, therefore they are not in a position to set conditions to the country that has fully implemented its commitments, Zarif said.

Last year's $5 billion gas exploration deal with French energy giant Total was the biggest in Iran since the nuclear accord, and showed French firms were willing to stand up to pressure from Washington.

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