France Presses Washington On $15BN Iran Credit Line To Save Nuclear Deal

As first unveiled on the sidelines of the recent G7 summit in France, President Macron is making a last ditch effort to create conditions to bring Tehran and Washington back to the nuclear negotiating table by offering Iran a $15 billion credit line as an incentive to come back into compliance with the nuclear deal

Iran's top diplomat, FM Zarif, was said to be open to it when it was first raised in Biarritz, France over a week ago — but the plan's progress is now conditioned on whether the White House rejects it.

Though this past week Iranian leaders again threatened to further breach uranium enrichment caps set by the 2015 JCPOA, Iran responded positively to the new trade mechanism involving the $15 billion credit line issued to the end of the year to help it conduct business.

Image source: AP/Irish Examiner

The proposal comes after Trump at the G7 publicly expressed rare openness to sitting down with Iran, saying of Macron's efforts to cool tensions toward dialogue"If the circumstances were correct or right, I would certainly agree with that." Trump cited "good feelings" about Iran and its desire to escape currently escalating tensions. 

Reuters reports an Iranian delegation is in Paris negotiating with French officials over the details which would provide immediate sanctions relief. A source privy to the negotiations told Reuters, “The question is to know whether we can reach this $15 billion) level, secondly who will finance it, and thirdly we need to get at the very least the tacit approval of the United States. We still don’t know what the U.S. position is.”

The Iranians appear to have fully endorsed the deal, with an Iranian official saying, “France has offered the credit line of $15 billion but we are still discussing it. It should be guaranteed that we will have access to this amount freely and also Iran should be able to sell its oil and have access to its money.”

“President Macron is trying hard to resolve the issue and help to save the deal ... and we have overcome some issues and gaps narrowed but still there are remaining issues,” the Iranian official said further.

Trump has reportedly softened toward the idea of a special credit line or alternative mechanisms which bring Iran back in conformity with enrichment limits; however, he's said to be firm on not walking back sanctions. 

It's likely Washington's decision will be known by the end of this week, given French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire is expected in Washington Tuesday to discuss the new mechanisms.