French foreign minister in Iran amid missile criticism

French foreign minister in Iran amid missile criticism

France's foreign minister traveled to Tehran on Monday promising tough talk on Iran's ballistic missile program but was met with stiff resistance from his Iranian counterpart, who said Western arms deals had turned the Middle East into a "gunpowder depot".

Zariff responded that Europe must "play a more constructive role" to preserve the agreement.

The meeting Monday drew protests from a number of university students in front of the foreign ministry in Tehran.

A collapse of the Iran nuclear deal would be a "great loss", the United Nations atomic watchdog's chief warned U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday, giving a wide-ranging defence of the accord and his agency's work under it.

Ahead of Le Drian's trip, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying he would pursue "a frank and demanding dialogue with Iran", including over its ballistic missile program and its belligerent regional activities.

"There are programs for missiles that can travel several thousand kilometers, which are not compatible with UN Security Council resolutions and which exceed the needs of defending Iran's borders", Le Drian told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

The Iranian foreign minister also criticized some European countries for "being influenced under USA pressures" over Iran's nuclear deal and missile program.

"Today, I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies' agreement to fix the bad flaws of the Iran nuclear deal", Trump said in a statement.

Le Drian will also be pushing in his talks to have Tehran put pressure on the Syrian regime, a key ally, to end its devastating assault on the rebel enclave of Eastern Ghouta near Damascus.

"The Iranian authorities told me of their heavy concerns on the humanitarian situation in Syria and their desire to see an end to this catastrophe", Le Drian told reporters.

While Iran has accepted curbs on its nuclear work - which it says is for purely peaceful purposes - it has repeatedly refused to discuss its missile programme, something the United States and European countries have called for.

Iran has refused any re-negotiation or additional clauses, arguing that the United States has already failed to keep up its end of the bargain on the existing accord.

"If the JCPOA were to fail, it would be a great loss for nuclear verification and for multilateralism".

As mentioned by the confidential IAEA report, Amano also said the agency had requested clarification from Iran about its plans for nuclear-powered naval vessels, suggesting the IAEA has still not heard back from the Islamic Republic.

Despite their differences, Iran has welcomed French efforts to re-engage economically and politically.