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Macron Scrambles To Save Nuclear Deal Amid Reports Of Imminent Breach By Iran

French President Emmanuel Macron (left) discussed the nuclear deal with his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rohani on July 6.

French President Emmanuel Macron is scrambling to save the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal amid reports that Tehran is on the verge of announcing it will lift uranium enrichment to above the limits set in the landmark accord.

In a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rohani on July 6 Macron warned his counterpart of the dangers of such an action while also saying the two leaders would continue talks in hopes of saving the deal.

A statement from the French presidency said Marcon explained "his deep concern in the face of the risk of a new weakening of the 2015 nuclear accord, and the consequences that would necessarily follow."

The statement did not specify what consequences could follow, but the United States has already reimposed hard-hitting financial sanctions against Tehran that have helped devastate the country's economy.

Macron also said he had agreed with Rohani to explore between now and July 15 conditions to "enable the resumption of dialogue between all parties" and de-escalate tensions.

The statement did not explain why the July 15 date was chosen.

Trump Warning

U.S. allies France, Britain, and Germany tried unsuccessfully to persuade Washington to remain in the nuclear deal, which provided Tehran with relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program.

President Donald Trump withdrew from the accord in May 2018, saying the terms were not strict enough to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

In response, Rohani last month announced his country would surpass the deal’s limit on enriched uranium stockpiles, saying it would exceed the 300-kilogram restriction by June 27, a move that has been confirmed by international agencies.

Rohani also said Iran would boost its uranium enrichment after July 7 beyond the 3.67 percent concentration limit set under the 2015 nuclear deal.

News agencies were reporting on July 6 that Iran will make an announcement on July 7 that it will increase uranium enrichment to 5 percent.

"The main announcement [on July 7] will be the increase of the level of enrichment to 5 percent from 3.67 percent that we agreed under the deal," a top Iranian official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said without confirming such a move, that this type of increase would still be in line with civilian use.

"For example, we need uranium enriched to 5 percent for use in the Bushehr [power plant], and this is a completely peaceful purpose," Velayati said.

Tehran has said the breach would be reversible "within hours" if progress is made toward providing Iran with relief from the reimposed U.S. sanctions.

Trump recently warned Tehran against making any threats regarding its nuclear program.

“Be careful with the threats, Iran," he wrote in a tweet on July 3.

"They can come back to bite you like nobody has been bitten before!" he added.

European diplomats have said that further breaches of the accord could see the so-called E3 -- France, Britain, and Germany - trigger a dispute-resolution mechanism that is part of the deal that could eventually lead to the reimposition of UN sanctions.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa

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