France, European partners pressing Trump administration to moderate Iran bans, Emmanuel Macron tells Hassan Rouhani

British Prime Minister Theresa May (top L), European Council President Donald Tusk (top 2nd L), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (bottom R), French President Emmanuel Macron (C), UN Secretary-General António Guterres (top 2nd R), International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde (top R) and other heads of state gather for a family photo during the G7 Outreach summit in La Malbaie, Quebec, June 9, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron says Paris and its European partners are pressing the Trump administration to moderate the sanctions it imposed against Tehran after withdrawing the US from the Iran nuclear deal. 

Macron made the remarks in a phone conversation with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday night.

He said France and its allies in Europe are seriously pursuing the implementation of all their commitments under the 2015 deal with Iran, vowing that they will do their utmost to “encourage” the US to ease its bans on the Islamic Republic.

“France is closely monitoring the regional developments, and will do its best to secure Iran’s interests under the JCPOA,” he said.

Macron at the same time highlighted the “highly significant” roles Russia and China can play in this regard.

Rouhani, for his part, called for accelerated and effective implementation of the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) introduced by Europe within the framework of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

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He said both sides of the important deal must fully implement their obligations, so that Iran would be able to reap the legitimate economic benefits of JCPOA.

“Despite living up to its commitments, Iran has not yet seen any considerable practical move by the other side,” Rouhani said, highlighting 14 reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, confirming Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal.

Donald Trump announced in May last year that he was quitting the JCPOA and restoring Washington's anti-Iran sanctions. The first round of the bans was re-imposed in August, and a second round was imposed in November.  The bans impact millions of ordinary Iranians whose lives are directly threatened by the US sanctions.

During the recent floods across Iran, the sanctions kept Iran from receiving any foreign financial aid to assist flood-hit people in many parts of the country.

US blacklisting of IRGC ‘very provocative’

Elsewhere in his remarks, the Iranian president also pointed to the recent move by the US to designate the IRGC a “terrorist organization”.

He slammed the move as a “very provocative, dangerous, and unprecedented” one in the history of international relations, and highlighted the key role played by the IRGC in fight against Daesh in the region.

“Without the sacrifices made by the IRGC forces, at least two regional states would have fallen to the ISIS terrorist group by now,” Rouhani said.

In a Monday statement, Trump blacklisted the IRGC, saying that the Iranian elite forces' designation "makes crystal clear the risks of conducting business with, or providing support to, the IRGC. If you are doing business with the IRGC, you will be bankrolling terrorism."

In turn, Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) slammed the US government as "supporter of terrorism," designating American forces in West Asia, known as the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), as a "terrorist organization."

Following this “unwise” move by the United States, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic also said it will “be treating all the forces enlisted with CENTCOM as terrorists.” the statement read.

“The General Staff will spare no effort in supporting the IRGC’s counter-terrorism measures in fighting the terrorist CENTCOM,” it said.