Iran Protests to France Over Diplomat’s Nuclear Comments

LONDON, April 14 (Reuters) Iran protested to France on Sunday over comments by the French ambassador in Washington concerning Tehran’s right to enrich uranium after 2025.

Tehran agreed under a 2015 deal with world powers to restrict its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of sanctions that had crippled its economy.

Some of these limits are due to be removed after 10 years, and some others after 15 years.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal last year, saying one of the defects in the accord is that limits on the Iranian nuclear programme start to expire.

On Saturday, France’s ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, said on Twitter: “It’s false to say that at the expiration of the JCPOA (the nuclear deal), Iran will be allowed to enrich uranium,” adding that sanctions could be reimposed.

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Iran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful energy and medical purposes and that it has the right to process uranium for reactor fuel under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a global pact to prevent the spread of atomic arms.

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said Araud’s comments were “a major violation of the object and purpose of the JCPOA,” adding they needed “immediate clarification by Paris, or we act accordingly.”

Iran also protested to the incoming French ambassador in Tehran, who had just handed his credentials to the government.

Araud, who previously took part in nuclear talks with Iran, is due to retire on April 20. His comments about Iran were not visible on his Twitter account a few hours after Iran‘s protest.

The French government was not immediately available for comment.

Other signatories to the nuclear deal, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, are still trying to salvage the accord, despite the U.S. withdrawal.

France, Britain and Germany have set up a new mechanism for non-dollar trade with Iran to counter renewed U.S. sanctions.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif complained on Sunday about the delay in the implementation of the mechanism, urging Europe to make it operational as soon as possible.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, additional reporting by John Irish in Paris Editing by Alexander Smith)