French President Emmanuel Macron says he has no “plan B” for a multilateral nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the P5+1 group of countries in 2015 amid the United States’ threats to quit the agreement unless certain “flaws” are fixed.
Macron made the remarks in an interview with Fox News, the American basic cable and satellite television news channel, on Sunday, the day before he arrives in Washington for a three-day state visit.
He urged the United States to stay in the agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as long as there is no better option.
“I don’t have any plan B. Let’s present this framework because it’s better than the sort of North Korean-type situation,” Macron said.
He added that he intended to “complete it” by addressing Iran’s missile program and working to contain Iran’s role in the region.
US President Donald Trump is a stern critic of the nuclear deal reached between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia – plus Germany. Under the agreement, nuclear-related sanctions put in place against Iran were lifted in exchange for curbs on Tehran’s nuclear program.
He has repeatedly described the JCPOA, which was negotiated under his predecessor, Barack Obama, as “the worst and most one-sided transaction Washington has ever entered into” and threatened to tear it up.
In January, the US president decided to stick with the JCPOA, but gave the European signatories a May 12 deadline to “fix the terrible flaws” of the accord or he would withdraw Washington from the deal.
Other P5+1 parties to the agreement have all criticized Trump’s hostile views, saying the deal is sound and has proven to be functioning. Iran also says it will not accept any change to the agreement.
The European Union foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, on Monday reiterated the bloc’s strong and unequivocal commitment to the full implementation of the JCPOA by all sides, saying preserving the deal was vital.
“The Europeans have always made it clear, the European Union has always made it clear that for us, keeping the agreement in place is vital. It is a strategic interest for the European Union and we will stick to it,” Mogherini told reporters on April 16 ahead of the bloc’s Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Luxembourg.
Iran’s nuclear chief said on Saturday the Islamic Republic’s response readiness would “startle” the US should it decide to pull out of the JCPOA.
“We hope that the other side makes a wise decision and avoids carrying out an action that would cause a nuisance for itself and others,” Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (IAEA) Ali Akbar Salehi told reporters.
A senior US administration official said on Friday that the French and American presidents would discuss the Iran nuclear agreement and the joint military strikes on Syria earlier this month at the White House on Tuesday.
The strikes, conducted by the US, France and Britain on April 14, hit three sites, one in the Syrian capital of Damascus, and two in the city of Homs, which President Trump claimed were “associated with the chemical weapon capabilities” of the Syrian government.
The tripartite Western countries announced that strikes were carried out as a punitive measure against Damascus for a suspected poison gas attack they claimed was purportedly conducted on April 7 by the Syrian government on Douma, the largest town in Eastern Ghouta near the Syrian capital, which reportedly killed 60 people and injured hundreds more.
During a speech on infrastructure spending in the state of Ohio late in March, Trump announced that the US would withdraw from Syria “very soon,” just hours after the Pentagon highlighted the need for American troops to remain in the war-torn country.
“We will be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now,” the US president said.
The US has reportedly more than 2,000 troops stationed in eastern Syria, in addition to several thousand others in the Arab country’s north.