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French FM due in Iran to reaffirm JCPOA commitment amid Trump’s threats

28 January 2017 15:41

 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault will travel to Tehran next week to reaffirm Europe’s commitment to Iran’s landmark nuclear agreement, which US President Donald Trump has threatened to scrap.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal made the announcement during a daily briefing in Paris on Friday, adding that Ayrault would “underline the importance that all sides which backed the deal strictly respect their commitments.”

According to the French Foreign Ministry, Ayrault will arrive in the Iranian capital on Monday to participate in a session of Iran-France joint economic commission, which is slated to be held with the participation of the two countries’ officials. Some 50 French firms are said to participate in the forum on Tuesday.

The nuclear agreement, called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed in July 2015 between Tehran on the one side and the US, the UK, France, Russia, and China plus Germany, on the other. The European Union acted as the coordinator for the negotiations in the lead-up to the deal, which took effect in mid-January 2016.

The deal, which was later endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution, rolled back nuclear-related sanctions against Iran, which in turn put limits on its nuclear program. France, for its part, was quick in restoring its trade relations with Iran.

French President Francois Hollande (L) shakes hands with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani upon his arrival at the Élysée Palace in Paris on January 28, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

During Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s historic visit to Paris in January last year, Iran and France signed a series of basic trade deals worth billions of dollars. France’s conglomerate plane maker Airbus, the multinational integrated oil and gas company Total, and automobile manufacturers Peugeot and Renault have already signed deals with Tehran.

However, on his campaign trail, Trump threatened to annul the deal, which he has lambasted as “the worst accord ever negotiated” and “one of the dumbest” ones he has come across.

 

Trump’s controversial comments on the deal, repeated last week, prompted Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to say Washington cannot unilaterally decide to abrogate the agreement as it is an “international agreement,” and not a bilateral one between Iran and the US.

Earlier this month and on the anniversary of the deal’s implementation, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said if Trump went ahead with acting on the threat, Iran would burn the agreement, echoing remarks by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Trump’s harsh rhetoric against the nuclear deal comes while Washington’s partners in the P5+1 have thrown their weight behind the Iran deal. The EU has already said that it is in complete agreement with China and Russia over the necessity to keep the JCPOA alive.

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