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France open to post-2025 talks; Iran says US seeking to undermine deal
By C�cile FEUILLATRE, Dave Clark
United Nations, United States (AFP) Sept 18, 2017

Iran says US seeking to undermine nuclear deal
Vienna (AFP) Sept 18, 2017 - Iran's nuclear chief on Monday accused the United States of seeking to undermine a landmark 2015 deal with major powers, calling on the UN watchdog to resist Washington's "unacceptable demands".

"The American administration's overtly hostile attitude and actual foot-dragging policies and measures aimed at undermining the nuclear deal... are contrary to the letter and spirit" of the accord, Ali Akbar Salehi said in Vienna.

He hit out at the US envoy to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, for making a "host of unjustifiable, peculiar demands" in talks with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano in Vienna last month.

These reportedly included that the IAEA inspect military sites in Iran, something which officials in Tehran have rejected.

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry told the Vienna meeting that Washington would "not accept a weakly enforced or inadequately monitored deal".

But Haley's demands are "far beyond the purview of the JCPOA and its collectively negotiated and well-defined provisions," Salehi said, referring to the full name of the deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

"We remain confident that the (UN atomic) agency, and for that matter the director general, will resist such unacceptable demands," Salehi told the International Atomic Energy Agency's annual meeting of member states.

For his part, Amano on Monday repeated in his speech that Iran "is now subject to the world's most robust nuclear verification regime".

US President Donald Trump has called the agreement reducing Tehran's nuclear activities in exchange for sanctions relief "the worst deal ever negotiated".

Trump has to certify in mid-October whether he believes Iran is abiding by the nuclear deal.

If Trump decides not to certify, Congress will then have 60 days to debate whether to re-impose sanctions.

On Sunday Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran would not submit to US "bullying".

"The corrupt, lying, deceitful US officials insolently accuse the nation of Iran... of lying, whereas the nation of Iran has acted honestly and will continue on this path until the end in an honest manner," said Khamenei.

The nuclear deal is expected to be a major topic of discussion at the general assembly of the United Nations starting this week in New York.

The gathering in Vienna also saw as expected the Japanese Amano, 70, appointed to serve a third four-year term as IAEA director general.

France stepped up global efforts to convince US President Donald Trump not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal Monday, suggesting a way could be found to prolong its effects.

Trump has signalled he is ready to declare Iran in breach of its side of the 2015 accord -- which he has branded the "worst deal ever" -- as early as next month.

And if the White House "decertifies" Iran's compliance, this would open the way to the US Congress reimposing sanctions and perhaps provoke Iran to itself pull out.

The other world powers -- France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia -- who signed the accord continue to see it as the best way to prevent Iran from building a bomb.

But Washington argues that by pursuing a banned missile program and fomenting militant violence in its region, Iran is in breach of the spirit of a weak deal.

Not all US officials share Trump's total antipathy to the pact, but they want stronger controls on Iran's ability to resume weapons development when it begins to expire.

- Sunset clause -

America's European allies are desperate to save the deal and -- as world leaders gathered on Monday in New York for the UN General Assembly -- France spoke out.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that scrapping the "essential" agreement would launch a regional arms race between "neighboring countries."

But he also said: "France will try to persuade President Trump of the importance of this choice, even if it can be completed by work for after 2025."

Le Drian was speaking ahead of a meeting between Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, who also suggested in a speech last month that the accord could be improved.

Under the deal, limits on Iran's uranium enrichment will begin to expire in 2025 under "sunset clauses" and critics have said this is the weakest part of the deal.

"It's essential to maintain (the agreement) to prevent a spiral of proliferation that would encourage hardliners in Iran to pursue nuclear weapons," Le Drian said.

Under the nuclear deal, Iran surrendered much of its enriched uranium, dismantled a reactor and submitted nuclear sites to UN inspection.

For their part, Washington and Europe lifted some sanctions related to Iran's nuclear program, while retaining others tied to its "destabilizing" actions.

Hawks in Washington, with winks from Trump and some in his inner circle, are calling for tougher sanctions on Iran's ballistic missile program.

These, they argue, would not breach their side of the nuclear-only deal.

Meanwhile, Trump's top foreign policy officials, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, have upped their rhetoric.

Haley went to Washington this month to deliver a speech laying out the case for Trump to find Iran in breach of the deal when he reports to Congress on October 15.

Tillerson is reportedly not convinced that destroying the accord is the best way forward, but tougher measures from allies would help him make this case to Trump.

- Iran, North Korea top UN agenda -

Iran and North Korea will dominate the annual gathering of world leaders, which opens on Tuesday with a series of addresses by Trump and Macron among other leaders.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is scheduled to speak on Wednesday.

Tillerson will join his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on Wednesday for a meeting of the so-called E3+3 on the nuclear deal, chaired by the European Union.

Turning to North Korea, Le Drian said "very strong" pressure from sanctions would compel leader Kim Jong-Un to negotiate an end to his missile and nuclear programs.

"Military action is not required," said the foreign minister. "To bring North Korea to the negotiating table, the only possible way is to apply very strong pressure."

The UN Security Council last week imposed a new raft of sanctions on North Korea after it carried out its sixth and most powerful nuclear test.

The council will meet on Thursday to discuss ways of enforcing sanctions, which depends largely on cooperation from China, North Korea's largest trading partner.

US retains Iran deal sanctions relief -- for now
Washington (AFP) Sept 14, 2017
The United States agreed Thursday to continue for now to exempt Iran from nuclear-related sanctions but slapped new measures on targets accused of cyber attacks or destabilizing the region. The decision to continue to waive the sanctions was expected, but the new sanctions and some tough words from President Donald Trump will be seen as a victory for opponents of the Iran nuclear deal. T ... read more

Related Links
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
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Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com

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