| 31 May 2024, Friday |

France warns Iran further nuclear violations will ‘damage’ Vienna talks

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Saturday warned Iran any further violations of its current nuclear commitments would damage talks with world powers next week in Vienna.

In a phone call with his Iranian counterpart, Javad Zarif, Le Drian called on Tehran to be “constructive” during the talks, in order to “identify in the coming weeks what needs to be done for a full return to respecting the agreement.”

Le Drian told Zarif he “welcomed the coming resumption in Vienna of discussions on the nuclear dossier,” adding that France would take part in next Friday’s talks in a “pragmatic” but “demanding” manner.

“I called on Iran to refrain from any further violation of its current commitments in the nuclear field likely to damage the dynamics of a resumption of discussions,” Le Drian added.

The 2015 nuclear accord saw Iran granted relief from international sanctions in exchange for accepting limits on its programme aimed at easing fears it could acquire atomic weapons.

Former US president Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018 and imposed strict and sweeping sanctions on Tehran.

Next week’s talks will involve China, Russia, Germany and the UK, with the US not taking part directly in next week’s discussions, but an American delegation will be present.

Biden has promised to rejoin the agreement on the condition that Iran first returns to respecting commitments it abandoned in retaliation for Trump pulling out and reimposing sanctions.

Tehran has said Washington has to end sanctions before it makes any moves to get back in line and has refused to hold direct negotiations with the US.

It added it would reject any “step-by-step” easing of restrictions, the foreign ministry said on Saturday, adding that lifting of all sanctions was “the definitive policy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

State Department spokesman Ned Price called the Vienna talks a “healthy step forward” and Washington “remains open” to a direct encounter with Tehran.