France's Macron says Iran nuke deal not enough, defends it nonetheless

French President Emmanuel Macron acknowledged Wednesday the Iran nuclear deal is not enough to contain the Islamic Republic's nuke and missile ambitions, however, he maintained scrapping the deal altogether would be a mistake.

Macron, whose country had been one of the toughest negotiators during talks between Britain, China, Germany, Russia, the United States and Iran, said Tehran’s increased influence in the Middle East and signs of ballistic missile testing showed the accord was not enough to deter the country.

“Is this agreement enough? No,” Macron told reporters in New York, where he was for the United Nations General Assembly. “It is not, given the evolution of the regional situation and increasing pressure that Iran is exerting on the region, and given increased activity by Iran on the ballistic level since the accord.”

The French leader offered to mediate talks between the U.S. and Iran, saying he has not given up on trying to convince President Trump to abide by the deal, Reuters reported.

Trump has called the Iran nuclear deal “the worst ever," and during the presidential campaign he often threatened to tear it up. However, since taking office, his administration has reluctantly continued to certify the agreement.

Macron said he believed he had managed to at least convince Trump to allow France and the United Nations to mediate between Tehran and Washington with regard to the situation in Syria, where Iran is a core backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

“Let’s be honest, the tensions are on the rise. Look at the activities of Hezbollah and Iran’s pressure on Syria,” he said. “We need a clear framework to be able to reassure regional countries and the United States.”

Macron said he wants to discuss possible sanctions over Iran’s ballistic missile program, open negotiations on what happens after the limitations agreed to in the accord begin to be lifted in 2025 and hold discussions on the role of Iran in the region.

“I proposed that we initiate the work of a contact group at P5 level [Britain, China, Germany, France, Russia], which has been done, and we will widen it to represent the political forces in Syria and the regional powers without Iran,” Macron said. “The United Nations Secretary General and France will play the role of mediator for Iran so that we have a parallel negotiation, but that will enable us to include Iran in the process."