President Macron Well-Positioned To Demonstrate Leadership Against Iranian Regime

(New York, N.Y.) — President Biden will welcome French President Emmanuel Macron to the White House today for the first state visit of his administration. Behind the pageantry are serious security challenges to both nations that must be addressed and opportunities for greater alignment in meeting those challenges, particularly vis-à-vis Iran, where President Macron appears to be preparing to take on a position of leadership in confronting the regime.  

In recent weeks, President Macron has met with Iranian dissidents and gone further rhetorically than any of his counterparts in describing the ongoing protests as a ‘revolution.’ These are positive signals, but he has yet to direct his government to take concrete action to hold Tehran accountable. United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) is calling on President Macron to undertake the following actions:  

Initiating The JCPOA’s Snapback Mechanism

President Macron, working in coordination with his European counterparts and the Biden administration, should trigger the snapback sanctions mechanism under U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2231, which would formally terminate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in recognition of the Islamic Republic’s open and notorious violations of the agreement and the immorality of resourcing the very repressive elements killing, imprisoning, and injuring the Iranian people today. The reimposition of punishing global sanctions against Tehran is especially critical amid Iran’s accelerating nuclear activities and partnerships with Russia and China. Such sanctions would restore the U.N. arms embargo on Iran, which expired under UNSCR 2231 in October 2020, and would extend the restrictions on Iran’s missile program, which are scheduled to lapse in October 2023—the very same provision that President Macron and his allies are depending upon to hold Tehran accountable for its transfers of lethal drones to Russia for use against Ukraine.

Isolate Iran Diplomatically

Despite dispatching its diplomats to plot bombings on French soil, taking French hostages and executing an Iranian journalist who was under French protection, leading the world in state-sponsored terrorism for more than four decades, repeatedly calling for the destruction of another U.N. member state, and committing gross human rights abuses against the Iranian people, France continues to host Iranian diplomats and maintain full diplomatic representation in Tehran. President Macron should immediately order his envoy to return home and downgrade Iran’s diplomatic presence in France. He should lead the way in all EU member-states undertaking the same measures.  

Align And Update Human Rights Sanctions

According to UANI’s Iran Human Rights Sanctions Tracker (IHRST), 152 current and former Iranian regime officials or entities are under sanctions by the United States but not the EU. These differences should be resolved immediately. The EU should also designate those individuals and entities responsible for ongoing abuses and update its terrorism lists to include the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Quds Force Commander Esmail Ghaani, and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Upon his return to Paris, President Macron should help pave the way for the EU to take these urgent measures.  

Cut Off Trade Ties

France permits businesses to engage in the Iranian market, which enriches the regime and enhances its capacity to develop weaponry. France also leads INSTEX, established to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran, in the false belief that legitimate trade between Europe and Iran is possible despite the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s domination of the Iranian economy. France permits U.S.-designated Iranian banks, too, to operate in France despite their ties to terror financing. Bank Melli, Bank Sepah, Bank Tejarat, and Bank Saderat each maintain a physical presence in Paris.  

As French carmakers Renault, Peugeot, and Citroen have recently discovered, there is no safe or legitimate commercial trade with the Iranian regime. UANI has impressed upon over 150 French companies the severe legal, financial, and reputational risks of engaging directly or indirectly with Iranian entities. Unfortunately, French ties to Iranian businesses are increasingly common. This year alone, UANI has contacted more than 10 French companies, including Dassault Systèmes SE, ArianeGroup, Comat.Space, Cryostar, CMA CGM Group, and TCM (formerly known as Sofregaz) about their policies vis-à-vis Iran after having uncovered credible evidence of direct or indirect business ties to Iranian entities.  

President Macron’s government should cut off France’s trade relationship with Iran, thereby depriving the Iranian regime of critical revenues and access to French dual-use technologies, and order Iranian banks to close in France immediately.