November 12, 2017
President Emmanuel Macron has expressed concern about Iran’s ballistic missile program on Thursday saying it should be restricted either through negotiations or possible sanctions.
Accusing Iran for the missile fired from Yemen and intercepted by Saudi Arabia on Saturday, Macron said, “There are extremely strong concerns about Iran. There are negotiations we need to start on Iran’s ballistic missiles.”
“Like what was done in 2015 for the nuclear activities, it’s necessary to put a framework in place for Iran’s ballistic activities and open a process, with sanctions if needed, of negotiation that would enable (that),” Macron said and added, “The missile which was intercepted by Saudi Arabia launched from Yemen, which obviously is an Iranian missile, shows precisely the strength of their” program.
The French president was speaking at a news conference held in Dubai at the end of his visit to United Arab Emirates and before heading to Saudi Arabia for a surprise visit.
While backing the Shiite rebels known as Houthis in Yemen, Iran has denied providing ballistic missiles to them and says its missile program is purely defensive and should not be linked to the nuclear deal.
The ballistic missile launched Saturday night flew near Riyadh’s international airport before Saudi officials said they shot it down.
Macron, however, reaffirmed his support for the nuclear agreement challenged by U.S. President Donald Trump. “If we were to walk away from it, it would lead to either immediate war or an absence of control which would inevitably lead to a North Korean-situation, which I could not accept.”
French president also said, “Iran is a regional power…there should be no naivety in terms of Iran, it is about standing beside our allies, in particular the United Arab Emirates, but it is about not having any policy that could create imbalances, conflicts in the region.”
He emphasized his intention to go to Iran as part of efforts to talk to all the actors in the region.
Macron also told journalists that the decision to go to Riyadh had been made on Thursday morning, and that his talks with the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman would include “regional questions, in particular Yemen and Lebanon”.
“I believe it’s important that we work with Saudi Arabia for the purpose of guaranteeing stability in the region and the fight against terrorism,” he said.
In recent years, France has been able to nurture new links with the Gulf Arab region due to its tough stance on Iran in nuclear negotiations, and the broad similarity of their policies on conflicts across the Middle East.