Iran Escalates Deal Pressure on Europe as Macron Envoy in Tehran

(Bloomberg) — A senior Iranian official derided European efforts to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal from a U.S. economic offensive, as a top envoy of French President Emmanuel Macron held crucial talks in Tehran.

“Today, the U.S. has taken European independence hostage and the countries of the European Union have to stand up in defense of its identity and independence in the face U.S. unilateralism,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, was reported as saying by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

In a meeting with French envoy Emmanuel Bonne, Shamkhani said his government’s policy of gradually abandoning some of its commitments under the accord in response to U.S. pressure was “unchangeable,” IRNA reported. Iran will continue in this direction “until its rights are met,” he said.

The French envoy is visiting Iran in an attempt to convince the Islamic Republic to reverse steps taken in breach of the nuclear deal. The U.S. exited the agreement last year and re-imposed crippling economic sanctions on Iran.

Macron is seeking “common initiatives to attain a truce” in tensions between the U.S. and Iran, Bonne said, according to a state-run Mehr news agency report.

French officials say they see room for compromise as Iran’s infringements have been carefully calibrated and President Donald Trump has underlined his desire for new talks that seek to also limit the country’s missile program and support for proxy militias around the Middle East. Iran has held open the door to negotiations with Europe but has said it will not speak to the U.S. unless sanctions are eased first.

Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal is monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency, whose 35-member board of governors is meeting Wednesday at the request of the U.S. to discuss Iranian violations.

The U.S. wants the meeting to ramp up pressure on Iran, but it’s likely to get pushback from Russia, China and other nations who blame the Trump administration for precipitating a crisis that has threatened to spill over into war.

(Updates with comment from Shamkhani and Bonne.)

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