France’s last-minute hold-out aborts Iran nuclear deal in Geneva
Iran and the Six Powers reconvene on Nov. 20 for another attempt to push through a joint draft of their first interim nuclear accord. It was French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius who broke the news that after three tense days, the Iran nuclear talks in Geneva had finished “without a deal,” although intense bargaining past midnight Saturday, Nov. 9 brought an accord closer than ever before.
Fabius amazed his American and European colleagues and Iran when he stuck to its guns to the last, insisting that Iran’s Arak heavy water plant must not come online and that Tehran dispose of its 20-percent enriched uranium stock. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif refused to accept this. No one believed Fabius would go so far as to scupper the conference.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said: “It is natural. They are six countries with different perspectives, and probably different interests, and they need to reach a conclusion. If the other side is ready to reach a solution, we are also ready, and we have made good progress on this path.”
The intense pressure the US beamed at Israel will now be trained on Paris.
debkafile: While Binyamin Netanyahu’s forceful objections undoubtedly contributed to the Elysee Palace's stand, it was President Francois Holland’s decision to draw a resentful line against the partnership between Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin for dictating the fate of the Middle East between them, and even monkey with the region’s oil markets and economies by lifting key sanctions. France felt it was being pushed to the sidelines by this partnership and decided to align itself with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arabs to put a spanner in the works of Washington’s deal with Tehran.
The Geneva conference reconvenes in ten days, but meanwhile President Obama will be licking his wounds from a stinging setback. Iran’s three top men, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, will need to talk fast at home to explain how long months of secret dialogue with the Americans ended in a public humiliation.
In his statement to reporters, Secretary of State John Kerry said that a great deal of progress had been achieved in Geneva and warned people not jump to conclusions. “Diplomacy takes time,” he explained, adding that he fully understood the concerns of America’s allies about the draft agreement. Kerry confirmed that the Arak heavy water plant was one of the items at issue.