Jun 19, 2019 16:51 UTC
  • France, Germany seeking to reduce tensions between Iran, US but warn time running out

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has blamed the US policy of maximum pressure against Iran for rising tensions in the Middle East, while criticizing Washington’s decision last year to leave a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

After a cabinet meeting in Paris on Wednesday, Le Drian said that Iran’s announcement on Monday to exceed its uranium stockpile limit in the next 10 days was very worrying and not in Tehran’s interest, but he pointed the finger at the United States.

“We … consider the US’ decision to break with the accord is not good and that its maximum pressure campaign is contributing to tensions,” Le Drian told reporters.

“So we want to unify our efforts so that there is a de-escalation process that starts,” he added, but said there remained “only a little time” and expressed hope that “all the actors show more calm” to defuse tensions.

Meanwhile, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who attended the French cabinet meeting, described the ongoing tensions as “a serious situation” and warned that the risk of war in the Persian Gulf “has not been averted.”

“We need to do everything so that it doesn’t come to this. That’s why we are talking to all sides. I was in Iran and we are also talking with the Americans. We need to de-escalate through dialogue. It is a time of ‘diplomacy first’ and that’s what we are committed to,” Maas said.

The three countries have voiced their support for the JCPOA and promised to keep the accord alive since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from it last year and began re-imposing American sanctions.

Iran has, however, been critical of the Europeans, saying they have failed to fully implement the agreement and keep trade with Tehran to help the country benefit from the JCPOA.