French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday that Europe would not compromise with the United States over Washington's move to reactivate sanctions on Iran, highlighting the growing transatlantic rift over how to deal with Tehran's nuclear programme.
Addressing the United Nations General Assembly, Macron assailed the "maximum pressure" policy of US President Donald Trump, saying it had failed to curb Tehran's interference in the region or ensure it would not acquire a nuclear weapon.
"We will not compromise on the activation of a mechanism that the United States is not in a position to activate on its own after leaving the agreement," Macron said in a video message from Paris.
"This would undermine the unity of the Security Council and the integrity of its decisions, and it would run the risk of further aggravating tensions in the region," he warned.
The Trump administration says it is "snapping back" virtually all UN sanctions on Iran lifted under the nuclear accord with Tehran, negotiated under former president Barack Obama but which Trump abandoned in 2018.
Washington says it can reimpose the sanctions because it is still a "participant" in the accord, a position denounced by Europe as legally untenable.
Trump has insisted that one of the inadequacies of the nuclear deal is the failure to address Iran's ballistic missile programme or its interventions in other Middle East countries.
In a nod to Washington, Macron said additional frameworks were needed for effectively dealing with the Iranian nuclear programme, adding there needed to be a "capacity to complete" the 2015 accord.
These would ensure that "we will provide responses to Iran's ballistic activity, but also to its destabilisation in the region".
Macron insisted that France, along with its European allies Britain and Germany, would keep up its demand for "full implementation" of the Iran nuclear deal.
He added that they would "not accept the violations committed by Iran", which has ramped up its nuclear activity in response to the US withdrawal.
Iran not a 'bargaining chip'
Earlier, Iran's president delivered a defiant and fiery speech to the UN General Assembly as he insisted it would be the United States that surrenders to Iran's resilience.
Hassan Rouhani spoke in a pre-recorded speech just days after Iran’s currency plunged to its lowest levels ever against the US dollar due to the crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.
“The United States can impose neither negotiations nor war on us,” Rouhani said, adding: “Life is hard under sanctions. However, harder is life without independence.”
Rouhani compared his country’s plight with that of George Floyd, the Black American man who died in May after a white police officer in Minneapolis pinned him to the ground by pressing a knee into his neck. Floyd's death set off nationwide protests in support of Black lives.
Calling it “reminiscent of our own experience,” Rouhani said: “We instantly recognise the feet kneeling on the neck as the feet of arrogance on the neck of independent nations.”
Rouhani insisted his nation does not deserve sanctions and described the US as “a terrorist and interventionist outsider” before referring to the 1953 US-backed coup that cemented the control of the shah in Iran, which ultimately pushed the country toward its Islamic Revolution and hostility with the West.
US sanctions and the coronavirus outbreak have pummeled Iran's economy. In March, Tehran requested a $5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, marking the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that Iran has sought such assistance.
Trump, in the middle of a contentious re-election race, has made pressure on Iran a cornerstone of his Mideast foreign policy. He's also increased US military presence in the Gulf.
“We are not a bargaining chip in US elections and domestic policy,” Rouhani said in his last address to the UN assembly before presidential elections slated for 2021.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)