France Urges EU: Sanction Iran's Missile Project So Trump Won't Nix Nuclear Deal

With Trump's May 12 ultimatum date approaching, European powers are attempting to salvage the accord by promoting heavy sanctions against Tehran's ballistic missile program

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, right, welcomes French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at the start of their meeting, in Tehran, Iran, Monday, March 5, 2018
AP

Amid U.S. President Donald Trump's ultimatum to either fix or nix the nuclear accord with Iran, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian urged the European Union Monday to lay harsh sanctions on the Iranian ballistic missile project in light of its "very questionable" role in the Middle East, specifically Syria.

The U.S. is threatening that if European powers don't "fix the flaws" of the nuclear deal by May 12 – Washington will withdraw from it. This is a step Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has consistently pushed for since the accord signed.

Intensive negotiations have been taking place in recent months on the topic between the U.S., Europe and Iran. France, Britain and Germany are pushing for a compromise in the form of harsh sanctions by the EU on Tehran's long-range ballistic missile program. Reuters recently exposed a draft of the proposal document which criticizes Iran's involvement in Syria, among other things.

According to Le Drian, "We are determined to ensure that the Vienna accord is respected but we must not exclude (from consideration) Iran’s responsibility in the proliferation of ballistic missiles and in its very questionable role" in the Middle East.

The proposal would require the support of all 28 EU member states. This is a complicated move, since several of them have interests in promoting their business liaisons with Iran.

Le Drian will arrive in Israel next Monday. Netanyahu, in recent months, has been aggressively pushing Israel's "fix it or nix it" policy regarding the deal with Iran – and has used the platform to emphasize the growing Iranian ballistic threat in Syria and Lebanon. The two are expected to discuss the topic during the visit.

Last December, Netanyahu met with French President Emmanuel Macron and said that "Israel will not tolerate Iran's efforts to take control of Lebanon and manufacture large quantities of precision-range missiles aimed at Israel.

Macron is expected to return for a visit in Israel in the coming fall.

In his visit to the Annual Security Conference in Munich last month, where he presented the alleged fragments of the Iranian drone from Syria downed by Israel, Netanyahu said the move against Iran's ballistic missile project was meant to combat Tehran's aggression.