FILE PHOTO: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, wearing a protective face mask, attends the questions to the government session at the National Assembly in Paris, France, February 1, 2022. REUTERS/Violeta Santos Moura/File Photo
February 16, 2022
By John Irish
PARIS (Reuters) – France’s foreign minister said on Wednesday that a decision on salvaging Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers was just days away, but that it was now up to Tehran to make the political choice.
Indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the tattered agreement resumed last week after a 10-day hiatus and officials from the other parties to the accord – Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – have shuttled between the two sides as they seek to close gaps.
Western diplomats previously indicated they hoped to have a breakthrough by now, but tough issues remain unresolved. Iran has rejected any deadline imposed by Western powers.
“We have reached tipping point now. It’s not a matter of weeks, it’s a matter of days,” French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament, adding that the Western powers, Russia and China were in accord on the outlines of the accord.
“Political decisions are needed from the Iranians. Either they trigger a serious crisis in the coming days, or they accept the agreement which respects the interests of all parties.”
The agreement began to unravel in 2018 when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the United States and reimposed harsh sanctions on Iran, which then began breaching the accord’s limits on its uranium enrichment activity.
Diplomats and analysts say the longer Iran remains outside the deal, the more nuclear expertise it will gain, shortening the time it might need to race to build a bomb if it chose to, thereby vitiating the accord’s original purpose. Tehran denies it has ever sought to develop nuclear arms.
(Additional reporting by Jean-Stephane Brosse, editing by Mark Heinrich)
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