‘Bad reaction to a bad decision’: French FM upset with Iran’s uranium enrichment, fears war with US

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The US was wrong to withdraw from the Iranian nuclear deal, but Tehran’s response, to enrich uranium beyond the limits set in the accord, is a path to war, French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has said.

“The situation is serious. The rise of tensions could lead to accidents” between the US and Iran, Le Drian warned.

Tensions have only been mounting between the two countries since May, after Washington beefed up its military presence in the region. The fears of a war were in the air a number of times, including when US blamed Tehran for attacks on oil tankers and Iran shot down a US surveillance drone. Donald Trump said he’d even ordered airstrikes in retaliation, but had called them off at the last moment. The US’ closest ally, the UK, is also holding an Iranian super tanker now, over claims that it was delivering oil to Syria.

“The fact Iran has decided to pull back from some of its engagements on nuclear proliferation is an additional worry. It is a bad decision, a bad reaction to another bad decision, that of the US withdrawal from the nuclear deal,” Foreign Minister Le Drian lamented.

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Last May, Donald Trump announced the US pullout from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which had taken years to sign, shocking other signatories France, Britain, Germany, Russia and China. Washington then slapped harsh sanctions on Tehran in order to force it to sign a broader deal, which will cover not only its nuclear program, but ballistic missile developments as well. Iran vigorously rejected the idea, saying there won’t be any new agreements with the Americans.

The French FM said that in either Washington or Tehran “no one wants war” but added that “there are elements of escalation that are worrisome.”

“Iran gains nothing from withdrawing from its engagement (with JCPOA). The US also gains nothing if Iran gets nuclear weapons, so it is important that de-escalation measures are taken to ease the tensions,” he suggested.

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Le Drian’s words echoed the joint statement by the leaders of the UK, France and Germany, released on Sunday and also calling for dialogue.

London, Paris and Berlin said they were “extremely concerned” at the “risk that the JCPOA further unravels” due to US sanctions, Iran’s decision to enrich extra uranium and the continuing deterioration of the security situation in the Persian Gulf.

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The European nations underlined their “continuing commitment” to the Iranian nuclear deal, saying that “the time has come to act responsibly and seek a path to stop the escalation of tensions and resume dialogue.”

Tehran previously accused EU countries of ditching their obligations under JCPOA in the face of US sanctions.

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