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Influential Iran Lawmaker Snubs France's Mediation Role Between Iran, US

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (C) and Iranian MP Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh (R). File photo
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif (C) and Iranian MP Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh (R). File photo

An influential Iranian lawmaker has suggested that French President Emmanuel Macron should focus on fulfilling Europe's obligations under the nuclear deal with Iran rather than acting as a mediator between Tehran and Washington.

Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, the former chief of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Relations Committee said, Iran should not accept Europe to act as a go-between for Tehran and Washington. Instead Iran should ask Europe to fulfil its obligations under the nuclear deal also called the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). Doing so will give more leverage to Iran against the United States, the influential politician argued, without going into details.

Since the reimposition of U.S. sanctions, Iran has been demanding from Europe to assist it against U.S. sanctions by facilitating trade. Europe has resisted the pressure and instead Macron has come forward as a mediator, trying to arrange a partial deal to reduce tensions.

Following days of expectations regarding a breakthrough in Iran-U.S. deadlock over Tehran's nuclear program, Falahatpisheh is one of the few commentators who has commented about the developments regarding Foreign Minister Zarif's meeting with French officials in Biarritz on Sunday.

Following the meeting, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, as well as his French and U.S. counterparts have commented on the possibility of talks between Rouhani and Trump in the "coming weeks."

Falahatpisheh, however, told ILNA news agency on Thursday August 29 that Trump is under pressure from G-7 leaders to change his diplomacy regarding the nuclear deal with Iran, "but this will not take place because Trump's strategy is unilateral," said Falahatpisheh.

Meanwhile, he suggested that Iran should go ahead with the "Third Step" to reduce its commitments under the JCPOA as this will increase Iran's bargaining power."

He added that "If Macron plays well as Europe's representative he will in fact revive the JCPOA."

Nevertheless, he praised Zarif for going the extra mile and meeting the French officials on the sidelines of the G-7 summit, saying that this showed "Iran's diplomatic power," adding that Zarif’s trip to Biarritz solicited the respect of the world leaders and the diplomatic community.

Falahatpisheh also argued that G7 was a victory for Iran. "Although Iran has not been able to resolve the conflict, it has managed to change the nature of this conflict and this is new… The United States was marginalized at the G-7 summit, and this is a success for Iran's diplomacy", he said

Meanwhile, he stressed that the third Step, after increasing enrichment beyond the 3.67 percent and the enriched Uranium stockpile beyond 300 kilogram, will give Iran more bargaining power as it will be enriching Uranium by 20 percent.

Other Iranian commentators agreed with Zarif that diplomacy with the United States is worth trying. According to some observers including former diplomat Hermidas Bavand, negotiations between Rouhani and Trump may not bear the desired result but trying it can pave the way for solving bilateral problems in a peaceful way.

Meanwhile, hardliner commentator Fuad Izadi told Fararu: "The only thing negotiations do is helping the U.S. government, because it is under pressure and its foreign policy has not been successful... I do not see any sign to show that America's negotiating style has changed."

Meanwhile, proreform website Fararu opined that "regardless of its historic significance, a meeting between Rouhani and Trump is unlikely to bring about a breakthrough in relations between Tehran and Washington in the short run, because the wall of distrust between the two sides is so high it cannot be easily tackled." As proof, Fararu reminded that one day after his implicit declaration of his readiness to meet with Trump, Rouhani expressed concern that his meeting with Trump might turn out to be simply a photoshoot opportunity.