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Iran’s nuclear deal at stake

Ⓒ AFP – DON EMMERT – | Iranian President Hassan Rouhani arrives at UN headquarters for meeting with Secretary-General António Guterres on 18 September 2017 in New York

Europeans, led by France, want to try to save the Iranian nuclear agreement of 2015, threatened by US President Donald Trump, who does not disguise his hostility towards a text that is considered crucial in the fight against proliferation.

The American president is being solicited from all sides on this subject. At the UN General Assembly this week, he first met on Monday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who reiterated his aversion to the “appalling nuclear agreement with Iran” he claims the cancellation, or at least the revision.

Mr. Trump then met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, who, conversely, tried to convince him not to call into question an agreement described as “historic” when it was signed in 2015.

In an explosive context, especially with the North Korean crisis, “this would open a Pandora’s box,” said the entourage of the French president, who maintains a friendly relationship with the boiling billionaire.

The Vienna agreement, concluded on 14 July 2015 between Tehran and the major powers (United States, United Kingdom, France, China, Russia and Germany) is more than ever questioned by Donald Trump, who calls it the ” ‘horrible’ and promised to “tear” it.

Torn after more than a decade of negotiations under tension and entered into force in January 2016, the agreement guarantees the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program, in exchange for a gradual lifting of international sanctions.

Donald Trump is to “certify” mid-October to Congress that Tehran is meeting its commitments, and some of his statements suggest that he may decide not to do so.

This non-certification, which would run counter to the findings of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) that Tehran is meeting its commitments, would pave the way for a re-imposition of US sanctions.

And most worried about the other signatories of the 2015 text.

“The agreement does not belong to one country or another, it belongs to the international community,” has hammered the head of European diplomacy Federica Mogherini.

– Agreement in great danger –

Ⓒ AFP – Brendan Smialowski – | United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, US President Donald Trump and the other participants await the declaration to reform the UN on 18 September 2017 in New York.

“If Trump does not certify, the agreement will be in very great danger. We can always legally claim that he is not dead, but politically it will be a strong sign,” said a senior European diplomat.

France, which had been one of the toughest countries in the negotiations with Tehran, did not however close the door to a possible discussion on “after 2025”. The Vienna agreement is for a period of ten years for certain provisions and beyond the “sunset clause”, Tehran will be able to relaunch some of its activities.

“We can complete by working for the post-2025,” said the head of the French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian without further details, although most of the signatories of the agreement, first of which Tehran, have excluded any renegotiation of the text.

“We feel that this is the red line of the Iranians, they do not want to enter into this discussion,” said the entourage of President Macron after the latter met his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani.

– Regional destabilization –

Tehran accuses the United States of undermining the agreement and Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, who has the upper hand over the nuclear issue, on Sunday said Iran would not give in to the “intimidation” of Washington.

The United States accuses the Shiite Islamic Republic of violating the spirit of the 2015 text and increasing its destabilizing influence in the region, Syria, Lebanon or Yemen.

“Iranian leaders want to use the nuclear agreement to take the world hostage,” said US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley in early September.

“We have a complicated discussion with the American administration to explain the concept of the agreement, to repeat that it is only about nuclear and that we have never claimed to regulate all the other subjects” , said the top European diplomat.

“At the present time, the existential threat to the world is the bomb.” The nuclear agreement is not there to solve the problems of Lebanon, adds the source.

In addition to Iran and North Korea, this week’s exchanges should also focus on Burma and how best to manage UN peace operations around the world.

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