- Macron warned his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani in a telephone conversation.
- The leadership in Tehran announced in early May their intent to exceed the contracted limit for the enrichment of uranium.
- Europeans are deeply concerned about the sharp tone between Washington and Tehran.
The nuclear deal with Iran is facing another serious setback. The government in Tehran wants to ramp up uranium enrichment.
France’s head of state Emmanuel Macron warned his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani in a telephone conversation about the “risk of weakening” the international nuclear agreement. Macron had expressed deep concern in the conversation, pointing out that such weakening of the agreement would have consequences, the Presidential Office in Paris said. What consequences this could be, was not explained.
In the phone call lasting more than an hour, Macron also announced that they would seek to resume talks with all contractors by 15 July. In the coming days, he will consult with all parties to achieve a de-escalation of the current tensions in the nuclear dispute.
The leadership in Tehran announced in early May their plan to exceed the contracted limit for the enrichment of uranium.
Maximum limit of 3.67 percent
The 2015 agreement provides for a maximum limit of 3.67% on uranium enrichment. Since the unilateral termination of the agreement by the U.S. last year, the future of the treaty is uncertain. Germany and the EU insist on its observance. Earlier this week, Iran had already exceeded the allowable amount of 300 kilograms of low-enriched uranium.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani nevertheless reaffirmed his country’s fundamental interest in rescuing the contract. Iran is ready to start talks with Washington. However, all sanctions against the Islamic Republic should be repealed, Rouhani said, according to official information on the phone call on Saturday with Macron.
The U.S. left the agreement with Tehran in 2018. President Donald Trump has also imposed sanctions on Iranian oil. He wants to drastically reduce the Islamic Republic income and make Teheran politically compliant.
Iran is disappointed with its economic hopes linked to the agreement. Two months ago, Tehran announced that it would step out of the deal. Europeans are deeply concerned about the sharp tone between Washington and Tehran. An escalation of the situation seems possible at any time.
With the onset of unlimited uranium enrichment by Tehran, the political will of the remaining partners – Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany – to save the deal is harder to implement than ever. Possibly, a dispute settlement mechanism could be activated, followed by a re-launch of UN sanctions. That would be the de facto conclusion of the agreement.
It was only on Friday that a leading cleric in Tehran threatened the United States with the idea that Iran would turn the Persian Gulf into a “red sea” in the event of an attack. “If you want to attack us, please, we will change the color of the Persian Gulf from blue to red,” said Ayatollah Ali Mowahdei Kermani at Friday prayers in Tehran. The U.S. threats would not prevent Iran from enriching its uranium as high as necessary, Kermani said. “But that does not mean that we want a nuclear bomb, because we do not need it, and besides that are against Islamic regulations,” added the Ayatollah, according to ISNA news agency.
The U.S. recently warned the leadership in Tehran about the threat of uranium enrichment. “They know what they’re playing with, and I think they’re playing with fire,” Trump said.
The reason for the nuclear agreement was the concern of the international community that Iran could build a nuclear bomb. As a result, Iran’s nuclear program has been severely curtailed and closely monitored. Ninety percent highly enriched uranium can be used for nuclear weapons. If Iran threatens to enrich uranium by up to 20 percent, then the step towards uranium grade-weapons will only be small. However, the experts largely agree that Tehran would need at least a year to build a nuclear bomb.