Only three days after calling on U.S. President Donald Trump to stick with the Iran nuclear accord as there is no “plan B,” French President Emmanuel Macron pulled a U-turn and agreed to work with his American counterpart to forge a new pact. “I can say that we have had very frank discussions…[and] wish from now on to work on a new deal with Iran,” President Macron affirmed following a meeting at the White House.
For his part, President Trump described the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the atomic agreement is formally known, as “insane” and renewed his call to amend it ahead of a May 12 deadline for him to decide whether or not to re-impose sanctions on Tehran. The U.S. leader also responded to threats by Iranian officials to “vigorously” accelerate their nuclear program if Washington pulls-out of the deal, asserting, “if they restart…they will have bigger problems than they ever had before.”
The American administration has for months been lobbying European powers to devise a follow-on accord to eliminate the JCPOA’s so-called “sunset clauses, which remove limitations on Iran’s ability to enrich uranium in about a decade’s time, as well as to curb the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program and regional adventurism. President Macron’s comments—specifically, his reference to the current nuclear framework as the “first pillar” of an eventual broader accord—came as a surprise to many given his publicly stated position only thirty-six hours earlier. This stance seemingly was coordinated with German Chancellor Angela Merkel—who is scheduled to speak with President Trump on Friday—given her interview with Israel’s Channel 10 in which contended that an imperfect deal was better than none at all. In response to the latest developments, Iran’s top diplomat, Mohammad Javad Zarif, appeared to moderate the harsh rhetoric emanating from Tehran, saying that it was only “probable” that the Islamic Republic would recommence enriching uranium if the U.S. nixes the JCPOA. Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was set to arrive in Washington on Wednesday morning for talks with senior American officials focusing on the nuclear deal and the Islamic Republic’s involvement in the war in Syria.