PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pressed the importance of maintaining Iran’s nuclear accord, the Elysee Palace said on Saturday.
“The president spoke of the importance of preserving the Iran nuclear deal, and the necessity for all parties to the agreement to respect the commitments they made,” the Elysee statement said.
The telephone exchange took place on Friday, but it was not immediately clear whether it came before or after US President Donald Trump gave the nuclear deal a final reprieve whilst warning European allies they had to work with him to “fix the terrible flaws” of the pact or face US withdrawal.
Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes and that it will stick to the accord as long as the other signatories respect it but will “shred” the deal if Washington pulls out.
Macron says he wants an “uncompromising” dialogue with Iran about its ballistic missile program and he told Netanyahu that efforts concerning Iranian ballistics as well as its regional activities should continue.
Benjamin Netanyahu on Iran
Netanyahu’s phone call with the French leader on January 13 occurred one day after US President Donald Trump demanded that European partners fix the “flaws” in the current agreement or face a US withdrawal from the pact.
According to a statement released by Netanyahu’s office, the Israeli leader told Macron that Trump’s “remarks should be taken seriously, and whoever wants to keep the nuclear deal would be wise to fix it.”
Netanyahu also told Macron the world should “strongly condemn the five crimes of the Iranian regime.” He cited efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, developing ballistic missiles, supporting terror, regional aggression, and “the cruel repression of Iranian citizens.”
Israel has said that Iran is dedicated to its destruction and that it supports global terror, claims echoed by Trump and the other US officials. It also accuses Tehran of backing Palestinian Islamic militants Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Lebanon’s Shi’ite Hizballah.
A statement from the French presidency said Macron called for the “necessary respect” of the nuclear deal.
In a phone call on January 11 also stressed to Trump the importance of “strict application of the agreement and the importance of its respect by all of its signatories.”
Along with France, the other signatories to the pact – Britain, China, Germany and Russia – have urged the United States to continue to adhere to the agreement.
Tehran again on January 13 rejected the notion of any modification of the 2015 nuclear deal, which required it to curb its nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief. It insists its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, while the United States and other countries claim it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
In his announcement on January 12, Trump said he would extend sanctions relief to Iran under terms of the 2015 deal, leaving the accord intact for now. But he demanded that changes be made before the expiration of the next 120-day deadline or that the United States would pull out of the accord.
Among the changes Trump is demanding is that Iran allows more timely inspections of sites requested by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and an elimination of so-called “sunset clauses,” under which some of the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program expire over time.
In addition, the deal must state that Iran’s nuclear effort and its missile programs are inseparable. The US and other officials have complained that Iran’s ballistic-missile program can easily be converted for nuclear use.