Middle East

Nuclear deal: France and Iran agree to look at conditions for talks

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Iran is expected to announce an increase in uranium enrichment to five per cent, above the 3.67 per cent agreed under a deal with world powers in 2015.

Iran will announce an increase in uranium enrichment to five per cent, a concentration above the limit set by its 2015 nuclear deal, an Iranian official says.

"The main announcement tomorrow will be the increase of the level of enrichment to five per cent from 3.67 per cent that we agreed under the deal," the official told Reuters on Saturday on condition of anonymity.

In a sign of heightening Western concern, French President Emmanuel Macron said he and Iran's President Hassan Rouhani had agreed to seek conditions for a resumption of dialogue on the Iranian nuclear question by July 15.

Macron's office added the French leader would keep talking with Iranian authorities and other involved parties to "engage in a de-escalation of tensions related to (the) Iranian nuclear issue".

The 2015 deal was aimed at extending the time Iran would need to produce a nuclear bomb, if it chose to, to a year from roughly 2-3 months.

Iran says its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, such as power generation, and not to make bombs.

Under its deal with six world powers, Iran can enrich uranium to 3.67 per cent fissile material, well below the 20 per cent it was reaching before the deal and the roughly 90 per cent suitable for a nuclear weapon.

Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported earlier that senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi will announce more cuts in its commitments to the pact on Sunday morning.

In this Jan. 13, 2015 file photo, released by the Iranian President's Office, President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power
Jan. 13, 2015 file photo, released by the Iranian President's Office, President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power centre
AAP

The planned announcement is a setback for Britain, France and Germany, co-signatories of the deal who have pressed for months to persuade Iran to remain committed to the accord.

Iran has said the Europeans have done "too little, too late" to salvage the pact by protecting Iran's economic interests from US sanctions.

Washington tightened those curbs from May, ordering all countries and companies to halt all imports of Iranian oil or be banished from the global financial system.

It has also dispatched extra troops to the region to counter what it describes as Iranian threats.

In reaction to the toughened US sanctions, Iran said in May that it would scale back its commitments to the deal after a 60-day deadline given to European signatories of the pact to protect Iran's economic interests from US sanctions.

However, Iran's Rouhani said last week that all the measures taken by Iran were "reversible" if other parties to the deal fulfilled their promises.

Rouhani said in the telephone conversation with Macron that lifting all sanctions "can be the beginning of a move between Iran and six major powers".

"The US sanctions are a full-scale economic war against Iran that could create more crisis in the region and in the world," he told Macron, according to state TV.

Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Iranian officials were unanimous in raising the level of uranium enrichment beyond the 3.67 per cent set in accord, in remarks posted on Khamenei's officials website.

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