Iran's Rouhani urges Europe to avoid 'threats or pressure'

President concedes situation cannot continue as is

In this photo released by the official website of the office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani meets with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, March 7, 2021. Rouhani said Sunday his country is prepared to take steps to live up to measures in the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers as soon as the United States lifts economic sanctions on Iran (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday urged Europe to avoid "threats or pressure" in any talks with Tehran, as he received Ireland's foreign minister amid diplomatic efforts to revive the nuclear deal.

Ireland is co-ordinator for the UN Security Council resolution that enshrined the 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six major powers, the Irish Foreign Ministry said.

The deal has been hanging by a thread since former US president Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018 and reimposed sanctions on Tehran.

After Joe Biden's US presidential election victory in November, the US, France, Germany, Britain and Iran have been trying to salvage the accord.

"The best way to solve problems with European partners at various bilateral, regional and international levels is negotiations based on mutual respect and avoiding any threats or pressure," Mr Rouhani told Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney at Sunday's meeting, the Iranian presidency said.

Ireland is not party to the nuclear deal, but is sitting on the Security Council.

As co-ordinator for the resolution enshrining the nuclear deal, Dublin is responsible for keeping other council members briefed with implementation of the deal.

Mr Rouhani criticised Europe's inactivity on its commitments to the deal, and said Iran was committed to preserving it and is the only party that has paid a price for it.

"But this situation cannot continue as it is," he said.

Preserving and reviving the deal requires all sides to act on their commitments, Mr Rouhani  said.

The three European parties to the nuclear deal on Thursday scrapped a draft resolution at the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, which would have criticised Iran's suspension of some nuclear inspections.

Scrapping the draft was welcomed by Tehran.

Mr Biden has signalled his readiness to revive the deal, but insists Iran must first return to all of its nuclear commitments, most of which it suspended in response to the US sanctions.

But Tehran demands Washington take the first step by scrapping the sanctions.

Iran on February 23 started to restrict some IAEA inspections.

But a visit to Tehran by the UN nuclear watchdog chief Rafael Grossi just before the restriction came into force led to an interim technical deal for up to three months.

The arrangement would allow the body to continue monitoring "all the key activities", Mr Rossi said.

Mr Rouhani said "Iran still remains committed to co-operation with the IAEA".

He said Iran was ready to reverse the restrictions "after the lifting of America's illegal sanctions and it stopping the policy of threats and pressure".

Iran's Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, is set to meet Mr Coveney later in the day.

Mr Zarif said on Twitter on Friday that he would soon present Tehran's "constructive concrete plan of action through proper diplomatic channels".