Rouhani Slams Trump's Talks With France Over Iran Nuclear Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned talks between the U.S. and France over the multi-party nuclear agreement, urging his American counterpart to stand by his existing commitments before seeking to impose additional demands.

“You said you’re making decisions with a European leader over a seven-party deal,” Rouhani said Wednesday in comments directed at U.S. President Donald Trump. “Who allowed you to?”

“First go and respect what you have signed, what your former president and foreign minister have said, then start bringing up new issues,” he said in the northwestern city of Tabriz, according to the state-run Iranian Students News Agency.

European leaders are stepping up their efforts to save the 2015 accord as the clock ticks down toward May 12, the date Trump has set for his decision to either stay in the agreement or pull out. If the U.S. walks away, Iran could announce it’s no longer bound by the deal, negotiated during the Obama administration, threatening a rapid escalation of tensions in the Middle East.

French President Emmanuel Macron held talks with Trump in Washington on Tuesday, where he suggested an additional pact dealing with U.S. concerns over Iran’s missile program and other issues, while leaving the nuclear agreement intact. Within minutes of the two leaders sitting down in the Oval Office, Trump ridiculed the existing agreement as “terrible,” “insane,” and “ridiculous.”

Until recent weeks, Iranian officials had suggested that their nation could continue to stand by its commitments under the deal -- which curbed uranium enrichment in return for sanctions relief -- in the face of a U.S. withdrawal, as long as other signatories that include France, the U.K., Germany, Russia and China remain supportive.

But as the deadline has neared, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other Iranian officials have suggested that Iran wouldn’t have much incentive to remain bound to the accord if the U.S. exited.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.