French envoy Emmanuel Bonne is in Tehran on another attempt to convince Iran to come back into compliance with the landmark 2015 deal as the IAEA convenes an emergency meeting in Vienna Wednesday on Iran's nuclear programme.
France’s envoy Emmanuel Bonne will spend two days in Iran, on a mission from the Élysée Palace to “create factors [that will lead] to de-escalation”.
French President Emmanuel Macron is seeking to lead European diplomatic efforts to find a face-saving solution to the latest crisis between Tehran and Washington, with the EU looking to buy time and soothe tensions, diplomats and experts say.
The International Atomic Energy Agency will hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss Iran's nuclear programme.
All actors ‘buying time’
After President Donald Trump unilaterally pulled the United States out of the deal in May 2018, Iran began enriching uranium to higher levels, leading to fears the faltering accord could be doomed.
If it falls apart and Iran continues enriching uranium all the way to levels approaching those that could be used in a weapon, diplomats see a high risk of conflict in the Middle East involving the United States and possibly its ally Israel.
"We are buying time. The Iranians are too," a European diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. "We need to bring Iran back on board in exchange for a symbolic gesture from the United States."
Analysts agree that European efforts in the short-term have to be two-fold: convincing Iran to stop enriching, then convincing Trump to suspend some of the crippling new economic sanctions he has imposed on Tehran.
"It's about creating the conditions for both sides (the US and Iran) to back away from the corners they are stuck in because the end-game here is negotiation," Sanam Vakil, an Iran specialist at the Chatham House think-tank in London, told AFP.
"For Iran to come back to the negotiating table, they have made it abundantly clear there will have to be sanctions relief granted."
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