Photo Credit: Courtesy Kremlin.ru
President of France Emmanuel Macron, May 29, 2017

Western diplomats told Asharq Al-Awsat that French President Emmanuel Macron had offered Iranian President Hassan Rouhani financial incentives to the tune of $15 billion to convince him not to reduce his country’s commitments under the 2015 nuclear agreement (Macron Offers Financial Incentives to Persuade Iran to Respect Nuclear Pact).

According to the same sources, the money would be paid out in installments, and, even more important, Rouhani was receptive to the proposal.

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On Monday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif met with Russian FM Sergei Lavrov and in a joint press conference the two praised the role played by President Macron to save the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Zarif said his country would “be complying with its obligations in full when the Europeans comply with theirs in full.”

On Tuesday, Rouhani told parliament that holding bilateral talks with the United States was not on the table: “We’ve said it before time and again, and we say it again: we have no intention to hold bilateral talks with the United States,” he insisted. “We never did and never will. It has been the case in the past year and a half, and even in previous years. There have been calls for talks, but we never responded to them.”

Tehran has threatened to reduce its nuclear commitments further by Sept. 6, which would include enriching uranium to 20%, and restarting the centrifuges that purify uranium to weapons’ grade.

A year ago, President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA accord between Iran and six world powers, imposed the pre-2015 sanctions on exports of Iranian oil, which devastated Iran’s economy.

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, Macron wants Tehran to continue to respect the accord past the deadline in return for an initial payment of $5 billion. This will give Iranian officials time to meet with French and US officials at the upcoming UN National Assembly. The next payment, $10 billion, will be transferred after Iran reverses the violations it has already committed against the deal.

A third phase, with no mention of a dollar amount, will include negotiations on Iran’s regional role as the promoter of terrorism, the diplomatic sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

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