By John Irish
PARIS, Nov 14 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday characterised the protests in Iran as a “revolution” and said the crackdown by Iranian leaders would make it harder to reach agreement on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.
Macron also said he favoured tougher action against Iranian officials over the crackdown.
Speaking after he met four Iranian women activists over the weekend, Macron told France Inter radio that more European Union sanctions would be adopted in reaction to Tehran’s actions.
After my one on one meeting with @EmmanuelMacron & meeting with women delegation I said:
If we open doors of prison in Iran, there are many educated leaders who can run the country better than backward mullahs. West must recognize the oppression of IRI.pic.twitter.com/PfegKkVokQ
— Masih Alinejad ?️ (@AlinejadMasih) November 14, 2022
“Something unprecedented is happening,” Macron said in an interview. “The grand children of the revolution are carrying out a revolution and are devouring it,” Macron said when asked to qualify what was taking place in Iran.
Ties between France and Iran have deteriorated in recent months as efforts to revive the nuclear talks, to which France is one of the parties, have stalled.
Macron said he did not believe any new proposals could help revive the deal and that a new framework is likely to be needed to address the matter.
“This revolution changes many things,” Macron said. “I don’t think there will be new proposals which can be made right now [to save the nuclear deal]”, he said.
Iran‘s foreign ministry spokesman criticised Macron on Saturday after he met the women activists, calling his stance “shameful” and a violation of France’s responsibilities in the fight against terrorism.
Anti-government protests broke out in September over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while she was in police custody. The EU, the United States, Canada and Britain have imposed sanctions on Iran. EU foreign ministers will impose new sanctions on Iran on Monday, diplomats and officials have said.
Macron left the door open to EU designating Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) a terrorist organisation.
“We are several who are pushing for targeted sanctions especially on the pasdaran (IRGC) and people in the regime,” he said.
When asked whether he would support designating the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, Macron said as things developed the question needed to be looked at.
Macron said he would carry on talking to Iran‘s leaders, would push for a regional meeting by the end of the year, including with Iran, to try and revive dialogue and find a broader framework for nuclear talks.
Two more French citizens are being held in Iran, taking the total of its nationals detained there to seven, its foreign minister said on Saturday.
(Additional reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Angus MacSwan)