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Carrot & stick: Macron teases ‘dialogue’ with Iran, threatens ‘consequences’ of nuclear deal breach

Carrot & stick: Macron teases ‘dialogue’ with Iran, threatens ‘consequences’ of nuclear deal breach
As Iran prepares to enrich uranium above the 2015 nuclear deal limit, French President Emmanuel Macron has said Paris and Tehran agreed to “explore” dialogue, while also threatening the disgruntled Iran with “consequences.”

“The President of the Republic has agreed with his Iranian counterpart to explore by July 15 conditions to resume dialogue between the parties,” the Elysee announced in a statement late Saturday, shortly after a phone call between Macron and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani. Macron said that he would be reaching out to the Iranian authorities and other sides of the 2015 accord in hopes of diffusing tensions.

Macron’s call for dialogue came with a threatening undertone, however, as he warned the Islamic Republic with retaliation if it keeps on surpassing the deal-imposed caps on its uranium stockpile and level of enrichment, saying consequences “would necessarily follow.”

In his own statement after the phone call, Rouhani reiterated that the best way to revive talks and save the deal would be to suspend all sanctions imposed on Iran.

“Stopping all sanctions can be the beginning of dynamics between Iran and the P5+1,” he said. “The European Union should fulfill more of its commitments and take more actions to salvage the deal.”

His statement also cited Macron as effectively admitting that Europe has failed to offset the damage inflicted on the Iranian economy by the American sanctions. “We accept that Europe’s actions to compensate for the US sanctions haven’t been effective and successful but that we will do whatever we can to make up for it,” the press release quotes Macron as saying – this part does not appear in the Elysee statement, however.

The nuclear deal has been hanging in the balance since US President Donald Trump pulled out of it last May, hitting Tehran with crippling sanctions. Iran has accused France, the UK, and Germany – the three European parties to the deal – of not doing enough to compensate for the losses Trump's move caused.

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Frustrated with the lack of action by the EU, Tehran said it will start breaching nuclear enrichment thresholds until Europe takes meaningful steps to restore trade relations in full. On Monday, its stockpile of enriched uranium exceeded the 300kg limit. The next step – enriching uranium beyond the deal's 3.67 percent cap – is scheduled for Sunday. 

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