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Macron backs JCPOA but takes aim at Iran missiles

French President Emmanuel Macron has defended a landmark nuclear deal with Iran, warning that a termination of the accord as sought by the US would be “crazy” which could lead to a new conflagration.  

In an interview with the Time magazine, published on Thursday, Macron described the 2015 nuclear agreement, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as “the best possible deal regarding Iran.”

Macron said he had told US President Donald Trump that “If you want to stop any relation with Iran regarding nuclear activity, you will create a new North Korea.”

“If you stop the 2015 agreement, what’s your other option? To launch war? To attack Iran? I think it would be crazy in the region,” the French leader added.

Last month, Trump refused to formally certify that Tehran was complying with the accord after endorsing the agreement twice before and threatened to ultimately “terminate” it.

Trump also punted the issue to the US Congress which has until mid-December to decide whether to re-impose economic sanctions on Tehran that were lifted under the agreement.

All other signatories to the JCPOA, namely Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany, have repeatedly announced their support for the deal and censured any move that could harm it.

Iran missiles

In the interview, Macron however appeared to be supporting Washington’s position on Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities. He claimed that a recent missile attack by Yemen’s Houthi fighters on Saudi Arabia was “part of this ballistic activity of Iran in the region.”

“So we should negotiate a new series of criteria and a new treaty with Iran to stop their ballistic activities in the region,” Macron said.

Iran has vehemently ruled out any negotiation on its missile program which it deems as an inseparable plank of its national security, meant for defense and deterrence.

The Houthi movement, which has been fighting back a Saudi invasion, fired a missile at the King Khalid International Airport in northeastern Riyadh on Saturday. The attack, the first of its kind, has shaken the kingdom, triggering frenzied accusations by Saudi leaders that the missile had been built in Iran.

Tehran has dismissed the accusation, with Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stating that Riyadh was trying to blame others for the consequences of its aggression in Yemen.

Macron in Dubai

Speaking at a news conference in the Emirati city of Dubai on Thursday, Macron repeated that he wanted to sustain the JCPOA.

The French leader, however, expressed concerns over Iran’s missile program and raised the prospect of possible sanctions on Tehran.

Macron also announced his intention to visit Saudi Arabia to exchange views with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman about the crises in Lebanon, Yemen and the wider region.

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