France’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that efforts to revive nuclear talks with Iran were being held up by “tactical problems” and the domestic situation in Iran ahead of its presidential election in June.
France, along with Britain, Germany and the European Union, are working to try to bring the United States and Iran to the table for informal talks that would be a first step to reviving the 2015 deal, which lifted international sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its nuclear programme.
Both sides so far appear unwilling to compromise. The Iranian New Year this week and the presidential election campaign in Iran are also likely to complicate matters.
“There is a tactical problem and also an internal (issue) in Iran, which is in a particular situation because we are quite close to the presidential election in June,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told a hearing at the French Senate.
He did not say what the tactical problem was but added that, while there was a stated will to return to talks, tensions remained and it was urgent to move forward to calm the situation.
“We are sending signals to the Iranians so that we can have this return (to the nuclear deal), which would be the prelude to a wider discussion beyond the JCPOA (nuclear deal) on regional destabilization, but also Iran’s missile capacities,” Le Drian said. “The return to the JCPOA is just the starting point.”
Iran has ruled out broadening nuclear talks to other subjects. Since the United States quit the deal when Donald Trump was president, Iran has progressively reduced its compliance with the pact.