As a deadline for European powers looms, intense efforts are underway to persuade Iran against fulfilling its warning to further breach the nuclear deal.
Iran warned on Monday that it was ready to take a “stronger step” in reducing its commitments to the 2015 pact if Europe cannot offer the country new terms by a deadline at the end of this week. Iran had set Friday as a deadline for Europe to offer it a way to sell its crude oil on the global market.
Western diplomatic told Asharq Al-Awsat that French President Emmanuel Macron had offered Iranian President Hassan Rouhani financial incentives to convince Tehran against reducing its commitments.
The offer stood at 15 billion dollars that will be paid in installments.
Rouhani was receptive to the proposal, said the sources.
Paris suggested that Tehran continue to respect the accord past the deadline. This will give it time to discuss with American officials the approval to offer the first installment of the incentive, estimated at 5 billion dollars. French and US officials are set to meet at the upcoming UN National Assembly.
The second phase of the proposal offers 10 billion dollars in return for Iran to go back on the violations it has already committed against the deal.
The third phase will include negotiations on Iran’s regional role, said the sources.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards officials have demanded that the French proposal include lifting US sanctions against Tehran. American officials have rejected Paris’ move, urging Washington to maintain its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran.
Iran stopped complying in May with some commitments in the nuclear deal that was agreed with global powers, after the United States unilaterally withdrew from the accord in 2018 and re-introduced sanctions on Tehran.
Iran has gone over limits set by the deal. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed last week that Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium still exceeds the amount allowed by the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA as the deal is known.
The UN agency also said Iran continues to enrich uranium up to 4.5%, above the 3.67% allowed.
Enriched uranium at the 3.67% level is enough for peaceful pursuits and is far below weapons-grade levels of 90%. At the 4.5% level, the uranium can help power Iran’s Bushehr reactor, the country’s only nuclear power plant.