French, Iranian presidents try to salvage nuclear deal as Sunday deadline nears

Iran could start enriching additional uranium in defiance of the 2015 nuclear deal on Sunday if European Union countries don’t ease sanctions on Tehran.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani talked on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron as the deadline to salvage part of the nuclear deal approaches Sunday.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and French President Emmanuel Maconron talked by phone Saturday about ways to preserve the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that limits Iran’s ability to make a nuclear weapon.

The United States pulled out of the JCPOA in May 2018 because the Trump administration wanted Tehran to negotiate a new deal. Iran refused so Washington has imposed ever tougher sanctions on Iran and its leadership to pressure them to construct a deal.

Iranian aide Ali Akbar Velayati said Iran would go back to following its commitments if the United States and European countries would do their part — mainly removing sanctions.

Macron said he has “strong concern about the risk of a further weakening of the 2015 nuclear agreement, and the consequences that would necessarily follow,” the Elysee presidential palace in Paris said. He agreed explore options to resume talks between all the parties by July 15.

Rouhani said he wants to end the sanctions on Iran, which he has called a “full-fledged economic war” against Iran.

“The European Union should fulfill more of its commitments and take more actions to salvage the deal,” Rouhani said.

The United States has called a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency to discuss the threat Iran poses as it abandons its commitments to the nuclear deal.

Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Movahedi Kermani said Friday that the Iranian government will use the uranium for electricity and scientific purposes, not nuclear weapons.

Earlier this week, Rouhani said the country has already exceeded limits on low-enriched uranium stockpiles.

ByNicholas Sakelaris