France: Iran cannot avoid talks on ballistic missile program

French Foreign Minister says Iran respecting nuclear deal but cannot avoid talks on other issues.

Elad Benari ,

Jean-Yves Le Drian
Jean-Yves Le Drian

Iran “cannot avoid” talks on issues like its ballistic missile program and role in Middle East conflicts, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned on Thursday.

“Iran must respect the fundamentals of the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and I think that is the case, but Iran cannot avoid discussions, negotiations on three other major subjects that worry us,” Le Drian said as he arrived for a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Vienna, according to Arab News.

France is one of the signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal, along with Germany, Britain, Russia and China. The United States was a signatory to the deal as well, but President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal in May, and recently signed an executive order officially reinstating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

The European signatories to the deal did not agree with Trump’s decision to leave the deal and have been trying to save the accord, which they see as crucial to forestalling an Iranian nuclear weapon.

Tehran has demanded that Europe come up with an economic package to offset the effects of the U.S. withdrawal but so far has found Europe’s proposals to be unsatisfactory.

While France has made clear there is no “plan B” for the Iran nuclear deal, it has also expressed concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile program and has suggested that Iran could be sanctioned over it.

Le Drian’s comments came as the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran is complying with the 2015 agreement.

Later, however, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed that honoring the 2015 deal is not Iran’s only option.