Disagreements over Iran expected at Macron-Trump meeting

EPA-EFE/SHAWN THEW

Disagreements over Iran expected at Macron-Trump meeting


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Disagreements over the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers are expected to be an important part of French President Emmanuel Macron‘s state visit to the United States these days.

US allies and rivals spoke out in support of the Iran nuclear deal before Macron’s trip, bolstering French President’s pitch to Donald Trump that there was no “Plan B” for keeping a lid on Tehran’s atomic ambitions.

Macron arrived in Washington on April 23 for the three-day trip as U.S. President Donald Trump has set a May 12 deadline to either improve or scrap the deal providing Iran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its atomic program.

The other powers in the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia — have urged Washington to remain in the pact, saying it is the best way to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

A nuclear non-proliferation conference in Geneva heard repeated calls for parties to the deal — the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany — to ensure its implementation and preservation.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday to stay in the nuclear deal Tehran signed with world powers in 2015, or face “severe consequences”, as other signatories stepped up efforts to save the agreement.

In an interview broadcast on April 23, Macron said there was no “Plan B” for keeping a lid on Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

“Let’s present this framework because it’s better than the sort of North Korean-type situation,” Macron told Fox News.

He also said that that he wanted to “complete” the nuclear accord by addressing Iran’s ballistic-missile program — a key Trump demand — and working to contain Iran’s influence in the region.

It is uncertain whether Trump will bow under the pressure. The U.S. president has said that Iran is violating the “spirit” of the nuclear agreement — which was negotiated under his predecessor, Barack Obama — by continuing to test ballistic missiles, sponsoring militant violence in the region, and by supporting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Trump has called on European powers to “fix” what he says are the “terrible flaws” of the deal, and demanded that new restrictions to be imposed on Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs.

Addressing a nonproliferation conference in Geneva, U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Christopher Ford said on April 23 that the Iranian nuclear program remained “dangerously close to rapid weaponization.”

Iran has for years “illegally and secretly sought to develop nuclear weapons, suspended its weaponization work only when confronted by the potentially direst of consequences without ever coming clean about its illicit endeavors,” he added.

Tehran has always claimed that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. It has also said it would stick to the accord as long as the other parties respected it.

Ahead of Macron’s visit, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on April 23 called on European leaders to “encourage President Trump not just to stay in the nuclear deal, but more importantly to begin implementing his part of the bargain in good faith.”

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman said on April 23 that there was “no alternative” to the nuclear deal with Iran and that the agreement should be “honored by all parties.”

And during a visit to Beijing, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that he and his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, agreed to “obstruct attempts to sabotage” the nuclear accord with Iran.

Macron also wants to persuade Trump to exempt European states from metal tariffs that are part of the U.S. president’s plan to reduce the country’s trade deficit.

Last month, Trump imposed tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum, but granted the EU a temporary exemption until May 1.

Macron’s visit is the first time Trump has hosted a state visit since he took power in January 2017.

Working meetings will be held today before a state dinner is held at the White House. Macron will address Congress the following day.

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