Iran has pushed back against French President Emmanuel Macron over the July 2015 nuclear agreement and the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program.
Macron unsettled the Iranian regime on Thursday when, en route to a quickly-arranged visit to Saudi Arabia, he said he was “very concerned”: “There are negotiations we need to start on Iran’s ballistic missiles.”
The French President condemned Tehran for the firing of a missile last weekend by the Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement, which controls much of Yemen, on Riyadh International Airport. Tehran, which supports the Houthis politically in the Yemen civil war, denies any military involvement.
For months the Rouhani Government has been courting the European Union and its members — especially Britain, Germany, and France, three of the 5+1 Powers who signed the nuclear agreement with Iran — to counter the hardening line of the Trump Administration.
But on Saturday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi was firm in his rejection of Macron’s statement: “France is…completely aware of our country’s stance that Iran’s defensive affairs are not negotiable.”
In a significant rewriting of Macron’s remarks, Iran said the French President had called for the renegotiation of the nuclear deal: “We have repeatedly told French officials that the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] is not negotiable and other issues will not be included in it.”
In a comment to EA on Friday, the office of France’s Ambassador to the US, Gerard Araud, made clear that Macron was not calling for the reopening of discussions on the JCPOA. Instead, it said Macron wanted negotiations of the ballistic missile issue alongside the nuclear agreement.
No, he has not spoken of a "renegotiation" of the deal which would be counterproductive but of the need to cope with the missiles issue. https://t.co/YFaAwhj7MC
— Gérard Araud (@GerardAraud) November 10, 2017
Trump Administration officials have told the US media that they want to reopen talks on the provisions of the JCPOA, including additional language to cover ballistic missiles. Last month French officials supported Iran in the rejection of such an approach.