July 10 (UPI) -- France has sent a top diplomat to Iran in an effort to shore up support for the fading 2015 nuclear agreement, with plans to urge leaders to scale back uranium enrichment "without delay."
Emmanuel Bonne, a diplomatic adviser to French President Emmanuel Macron, was set to meet Iran's senior security official Ali Shamkhani in Tehran, where leaders said this week uranium enrichment has increased to more than 4.5 percent -- far beyond the stockpile limit set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Iran in recent weeks has scaled back commitments to the deal, led by former U.S. President Barack Obama and the governments of three Western allies - France, Germany and Britain -- plus China and Russia. It's designed to limit Iran's ability to produce nuclear weapons in exchange for sanctions relief for Tehran.
Iranian leaders have slowly stepped back from the pact after the United States announced its withdrawal last year, but has signaled hope the agreement can be saved through the other signatories, including France.
Iran has said its decision to enrich uranium beyond the parameters of the deal is based in science and energy, not atomic armament.
Iran has compelled the European parties to the deal to salvage it, whereas the U.S. administration hopes they will also walk away.
"Iran has stated that it wants to remain within the JCPOA," the European signatories said in a join statement Tuesday. "It must act accordingly by reversing these activities and returning to full JCPOA compliance without delay."
Iran has welcomed the efforts from Paris. Tehran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said the doors of diplomacy are still open and repeated Iran's position that new U.S. sanctions amount to economic terrorism.
"Accordingly, we are facing diplomatic struggle in regional and international levels," he said.