Iran rejects new participants, any talks on nuclear deal

The sanctions are the latest move by the outgoing Trump administration to put pressure on Tehran (Vahid Salemi/Al Jazeera)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iran’s foreign ministry rejected any new negotiations or changes to the participants of Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers, after French President Emmanuel Macron said any new talks should include Saudi Arabia.

“The nuclear accord is a multilateral international agreement ratified by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which is non-negotiable and parties to it are clear and unchangeable,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh was quoted by state media as saying, according to Reuters.

The 2015 accord lifted sanctions on Iran in return for curbs to its disputed nuclear programme but after Trump’s withdrawal, Iran violated its conditions in a step-by-step response to Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy.

French President Emmanuel Macron said any new negotiation on the deal would be very “strict” and should include Saudi Arabia, Al Arabiya television reported on Friday.

It said Macron told a media briefing which included the Saudi-owned channel that a very short time remained to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon. Al Arabiya reported Macron’s comments in Arabic.

Iran has repeatedly said it can quickly reverse those violations if U.S. sanctions are removed.

In December, Iran’s hardline-dominated parliament passed legislation that forces the government to harden its nuclear stance if U.S. sanctions were not eased within two months.

Earlier this month, Iran resumed enriching uranium to 20% fissile strength at its underground Fordow nuclear plant, a level Tehran achieved before the 2015 accord.

It had earlier breached the deal’s 3.67% limit on the purity to which it can refine uranium, but it had only gone up to 4.5% so far, well short of the 20% level and of the 90% needed to fuel an atomic bomb.

The new administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin the deal but only after Tehran resumes full compliance with its terms.

On Friday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Tehran would not reverse an acceleration of its nuclear programme before Washington lifts sanctions.

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