IRAN is just “one or two years” away from developing its own nuclear weapons, France’s top diplomat has warned.
Jean-Yves Le Drian issued the chilling statement today ahead of an emergency meeting of EU foreign ministers, claiming if the regime continued violating the 2015 deal restricting its weapons programme it could become a nuclear power.
The French foreign minister spoke amid mounting tensions between Iran and the United States, following the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in an air strike in Baghdad last week and a subsequent Iranian missile attack on US led forces in Iraq.
Le Drian said: “If they continue with unravelling the Vienna agreement, then yes, within a fairly short period of time, between one and two years, they could have access to a nuclear weapon, which is not an option.”
Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), Tehran pledged to curb its nuclear ambitions in exchange for international sanctions relief.
The agreement between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China as well as the European Union was signed in October 2015 in Vienna.
However Tehran has been gradually breaching aspects of the deal since President Donald Trump walked away from it in 2018 and imposed crippling economic sanctions.
Trump said the agreement was insufficient and should be renegotiated because it didn’t address Iran’s ballistic missile programme or its involvement in regional conflicts.
Le Drian went on to insist the accord “is not dead” and it is essential to salvage it.
Iran has previously insisted its nuclear programme is for civilian purposes only, and the JCPOA allowed the country to run reactors to generate power.
However since the death of Qassem Soleimani, Iran has threatened to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels and abandon all limits on its nuclear programme.
The most serious breach until now had been to enrich uranium to 20 per cent – the maximum level at which it can be considered purely for energy use.
But after Trump’s strike against Soleimani in Baghdad, the regime has threatened to expand its programme much further.
In a statement released on Sunday, the Iranian government said: “Iran’s nuclear programme no longer faces any limitation in the operational field.”
Tehran announced what it said was its fifth and final step in violating the JCPOA and said it no longer will abide by any limitation to its enrichment activities.
Trump has now called on Britain, France and Germany to join him in withdrawing from the JCPOA nuclear agreement, which many analysts have described ineffective already.
While Soleimani’s death sparked fury in Iran, the regime does fear reprisals from the US if it hits back too hard in the name of revenge.
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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani is believed to have reassured British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that Iran is willing to stick to the terms of the nuclear agreement if the United Kingdom and other European nations help the country to avoid US sanctions.
European foreign affairs ministers and the NATO secretary general will hold an emergency meeting to seek ways to guide the United States and Iran away from confrontation.
Despite calls from President Trump to break away from the deal, it is expected they will reiterate their support for the nuclear agreement.
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