Iran’s Raisi meets European leaders at UN amid nuclear deadlock

Macron reportedly offers new proposals to Raisi, but a breakthrough still appears unlikely as US midterm elections loom.

French President Emmanuel Macron, near left, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, near right, meet at the sidelines of the UNGA
French President Emmanuel Macron, near left, and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, near right, meet at the sidelines of the UNGA [handout by Raisi's website]

Tehran, Iran – Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi and his delegation have held meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and other top European leaders as a deadlock over their 2015 nuclear deal remains in place.

Raisi, accompanied by Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and top nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, also sat down on Tuesday with European Council President Charles Michel, and the bloc’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and his deputy Enrique Mora, who act as coordinators of the nuclear talks that began in April 2021.

Bagheri and Mora then held separate talks that are thought to be predominantly focused on stalled efforts to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the nuclear deal that the United States unilaterally abandoned in 2018 is formally known.

According to Raisi’s website, the Iranian president emphasised a major demand to his French counterpart that an inquiry by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into several Iranian nuclear sites revolving around unexplained nuclear particles must be concluded for any agreement.

“The agency’s approach towards technical issues must be away from pressures by others, and we believe that achieving an agreement will not be possible without closing Iran’s cases,” Raisi told Macron.

Raisi also said, “Europe must show in action that its policies are separate from those of the US and does not follow the wishes and policies of the US.”

Macron reportedly offered proposals to advance the talks that have once more stalled after Iran gave its latest written response to a European draft text earlier this month.

“Iran and the agency are able to resolve existing cases and we won’t exert political pressure on the agency on this issue,” the French president was quoted as saying on Raisi’s website.

Speaking to Michel, Raisi asked, “If safeguards issues are not resolved, what guarantee is there that the three European countries won’t again propose and pursue a resolution against the Islamic Republic of Iran the day after an agreement?”

The E3 – France, Germany and the United Kingdom – and the United States introduced a resolution censuring Iran in June, which led to Iran dismantling 28 agency cameras at its nuclear sites.

The Western allies also read out a statement at the IAEA board last week in condemnation of Iran’s lack of cooperation with the agency which was backed by 56 countries, including two-thirds of the board.

Tuesday’s meetings come one day after France’s foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, urged Tehran to take the offer on the table to restore the landmark accord, saying the window of opportunity “is about to close”.

Borrell had also said he saw little chance of progress at the UN General Assembly, reinforcing speculation that there will be no real progress at least until after the upcoming US midterm elections next month.

Meanwhile, Israel remains the biggest opponent of the nuclear deal, with Mossad chief David Barnea saying earlier this month that even a restored JCPOA will not give Iran “immunity” from Israeli operations.

Source: Al Jazeera