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France, allies to lodge complaint at UN nuclear watchdog over Iran’s activities

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France and its Western partners plan to go ahead with a protest in the coming days at the UN nuclear watchdog’s board to criticise Iran’s decision to curb cooperation with the agency, its foreign minister said on Tuesday.

“The nuclear tensions will lead us in the coming days to lodge a complaint in the framework of the IAEA Board of Governors to regret this decision,” Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing.

Separately, in a telephone call on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday asked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani for “clear gestures” and an immediate return to the terms of a landmark nuclear deal with Western powers.

Macron’s office said the French leader also asked Rouhani to fully cooperate with the IAEA on inspections and expressed his “deepest concern” over Iranian violations of the accord.

Iran said last month it was scaling back cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, ending extra inspection and monitoring measures introduced by the 2015 nuclear deal, including the power given to the IAEA to carry out snap inspections at facilities not declared by Iran.

Britain, France and Germany, all parties to the deal with Iran, on Monday circulated a draft resolution backed by the United States for the Vienna meeting voicing “serious concern” at Iran’s reduced cooperation and urging Iran to reverse its steps.

Russia and Iran have warned of serious consequences if the resolution passes.

“I have to give this warning, that actions against our expectations will have adverse effects on diplomatic processes, and can quickly close the windows of opportunity,” Iran’s government spokesman Ali Rabiei told reporters.

Iran expects “all parties to act rationally and prudently, and to know the value of fleeting moments,” he added. “We are still committed to diplomacy.”

A document circulated by the Iranian mission in Vienna and seen by AFP said a resolution would effectively end a temporary agreement to mitigate the impact of the suspended inspections.

Restrictions on inspections went into force on February 23.

These followed a law passed by the Iranian parliament in December that called for suspending certain commitments if the US does not lift unilateral sanctions or the three European countries do not help Tehran to bypass those sanctions.

Under the agreement with the IAEA, that runs for up to three months, data from cameras on Iran’s nuclear programme will be stored and not handed over to the agency, and if sanctions are not lifted by that time, Tehran will start erasing the recordings.

According to Rabiei, the agreement conveyed Iran’s “goodwill”, and now the Islamic republic expects other parties to the nuclear deal to “prove” theirs.

Diplomatic sources in Vienna say the European resolution is expected to face a vote on Friday, and that it is backed by the United States.

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The 2015 landmark nuclear deal has been hanging by a thread since former US president Donald Trump withdrew Washington from it and reimposed punishing sanctions on Iran in 2018.

Current US President Joe Biden has signalled his readiness to revive the deal, but insists Iran first return to all its nuclear commitments, most of which it suspended in response to the sanctions.

Tehran demands Washington take the first step by scrapping the sanctions.

Iran on Sunday dismissed a European offer for an informal meeting involving the US on the deal, saying the time is not right as Washington has failed to lift sanctions.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

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