France’s Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says the Iranian nuclear deal is “not dead” despite US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw.
The 2015 agreement curbed Iran’s nuclear activities in return for the lifting of sanctions that had been imposed by the UN, US and EU.
But Mr. Trump argued that the deal was “defective at its core”, saying he would pull out and reimpose sanctions.
Other signatories to the nuclear accord say they remain committed to it.
The deal was agreed between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, UK, France, China and Russia – plus Germany.
Iran has also said it would try to salvage the agreement, but would restart uranium enrichment if it could not.
In a statement, President Hassan Rouhani said: “I have ordered the foreign ministry to negotiate with the European countries, China and Russia in the coming weeks.
“If we achieve the deal’s goals in co-operation with other members of the deal, it will remain in place.”
There were furious scenes in the Iranian parliament, with members burning an American flag and the speaker reportedly saying Mr Trump lacked “mental capacity”.
In his comments to French radio, Mr Le Drian said “the deal is not dead. There’s an American withdrawal from the deal but the deal is still there”.
He said there would be a meeting between France, Britain, Germany and Iran on Monday.
Russia said it was “deeply disappointed” by Mr. Trump’s decision while China expressed regret.
But the move has been welcomed by Iran’s major regional rivals, Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a prominent critic of the accord, said he “fully supports” Mr Trump’s withdrawal from a “disastrous” deal.
In his address on Tuesday, President Trump called the nuclear accord – or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) as it is formally known – a “horrible, one-sided deal that should have never, ever been made”.
He said he would work to find a “real, comprehensive, and lasting” deal that tackled not only the Iranian nuclear programme but its ballistic missile tests and activities across the Middle East.
Mr. Trump also said he would reimpose economic sanctions that were waived when the deal was signed in 2015.
The US Treasury said the sanctions would target industries mentioned in the deal, including Iran’s oil sector, aircraft manufacturers exporting to Iran and Iranian government attempts to buy US dollar banknotes.
Major European and US companies are likely to be hit. Some exemptions are due to be negotiated but it is not yet clear what.
US National Security Adviser John Bolton is reported as saying that European companies doing business in Iran will have to stop doing so within six months or face US sanctions.
SOURCE: BBC News