Macron: Europe plans no immediate sanctions if Iran scales back nuclear commitments 

June 30, 2019

Europe has no immediate plans to follow the U.S. and impose sanctions on Iran, even if Tehran makes good on its threat to scale back its commitment to a nuclear accord, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Saturday in Osaka, Japan, the venue of the G20 summit.

U.S. officials in recent days have urged Europeans to toughen their stance on Iran after the U.S. administration imposed fresh sanctions on Monday in response to the downing of a U.S. military drone.

The French president signaled understanding for the Iranian position. “Until very recently the Iranians, following all the records, behaved properly, they followed the rulebook. Now because of the increase in sanctions and tensions, indeed they are threatening to slightly move differently,” Mr. Macron said.The drone was shot down on June 20 after it violated Iran’s airspace and ignored repeated warning by the Iranian military to leave. To prove that the drone, an RQ-4 Black Hawk, had breached Iran’s airspace, Iran put its wreckage on display.

Talking in a press conference, Macron said his main goal is to de-escalate tensions between Iran and the U.S. 

Europe won’t trigger sanctions if Iran goes over the uranium stockpile limit, because that is not how the nuclear deal works, he said.

“This is a big risk,” he said. “What we will do in such a case isn’t to move directly to sanctions, but to act precisely following the treaty we signed in 2015,” he said, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

In case of noncompliance, France, Germany and the UK will first hold talks with the Iranian minister for official explanations, he said.

Under the deal, there is a multistep complaint and evaluation process, which takes at least 50 days to work through. Only at the end of that would Europe potentially impose sanctions if Iran was still out of step with the deal. But some European officials say France, Germany and the UK may hold off on triggering that mechanism and wait for a bigger transgression by Iran.

The French president signaled understanding for the Iranian position. “Until very recently the Iranians, following all the records, behaved properly, they followed the rulebook. Now because of the increase in sanctions and tensions, indeed they are threatening to slightly move differently,” Mr. Macron said.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also met Mr. Trump and talked at length about how to get Iran to the negotiating table.

“This is something I am very much in favor of,“ she said. ”But the situation remains quite tense.”

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