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UN Nuclear Watchdog: Iran-Accord Failure Would Be 'Great Loss'


International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano (file photo)

The failure of a landmark 2015 agreement between Iran and world powers to restrict Tehran's nuclear program would represent a "great loss," the head of the UN's atomic watchdog has said.

"As of today, I can state that Iran is implementing its nuclear-related commitments" under the deal, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano said in a speech opening a quarterly meeting of the IAEA's board of governors.

U.S. President Donald Trump has been a harsh critic of what he calls the agreement's "disastrous flaws."

Trump in January set a 120-day deadline for U.S. lawmakers and European allies to "fix" the agreement or face a U.S. withdrawal.

A U.S. exit could kill the agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which Tehran has refused to renegotiate.

The U.S. administration is concerned that parts of the agreement will begin to expire from 2026 and that it fails to address Iran's missile program, its actions in the region, or its human rights abuses.

Amano said the accord "represents a significant gain for verification" and that if it "were to fail, it would be a great loss for nuclear verification and for multilateralism."

Last month, an IAEA report concluded that Iran was continuing to abide by the deal's key measures.

Amano said inspectors had had "access to all the sites and locations which we needed to visit."

The IAEA had requested "further clarifications" over the notification Iran gave the agency in January that it intended to construct "naval nuclear propulsion" at some point in the future, Amano told the closed-door meeting of 35 member states.

Iran has long admitted publicly that it plans to develop nuclear propulsion for naval vessels.

While Iran has seen massive economic benefits from the JCPOA, notably by being able to resume oil exports, it still subjected to U.S. sanctions in other areas.

French Diplomacy

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visited Tehran on March 5, to pursue "a frank and demanding dialogue with Iran," according to France's Foreign Ministry.

Le Drian said there was "still a lot of work to do" on Iran's missile program after meeting with top Iranian officials, including President Hassan Rohani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

Rohani expressed hope that the nuclear deal could be preserved.

"It would be a point of regret for everyone" if the accord was not honored, Rohani said, adding that his country was "ready to deal with any situation that is not agreeable to Iran."

Zarif told his French counterpart that Europe must “play a more constructive role to preserve" the nuclear deal, Iranian media reported.

State media quoted Zarif as saying that Europe "must put pressure on the United States to meet its commitments under the deal and not to allow it to present illogical and illegal demands."

Zarif slammed the European Union for "extremism" in relationship to Tehran in an interview published ahead of his meeting with Le Drian.

"In order to keep the United States in the Iran nuclear deal, European countries are suffering from extremism and this will ultimately undermine Europe's policy," Zarif told the reformist newspaper Etemad.

Le Drian’s one-day trip to Tehran was originally scheduled for January, but it was delayed after student-led street protests broke out in many Iranian cities.

Ahead of the trip, he told the AFP news agency that he had informed Tehran that he was no "emissary of Donald Trump."

But the French minister did tell Tehran that the country needed to address concerns over its ballistic-missile program or face new sanctions.

Iran insists its ballistic missile program is for purely defensive purposes.

However, Le Drian said last week that Iran's ballistic missile capacity and position worries the West "enormously."

"Having such tools is not uniquely defensive, given the distance they can reach," Le Drian said.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and PressTV
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