France Tougher Than U.S. on Iran

It’s a strange world when France shows more toughness in foreign policy than the United States, but apparently it was France, not the United States, which shut the door on an imminent deal between Iran and the West over Iran’s nuclear program. Even AP agrees with that assessment.

An AP report states that analysts examining the negotiations which broke down on Sunday in Geneva indicated that France’s concerns about the proliferation of nuclear weapons and its doubts regarding Iran’s honesty triggered it to speak out against a deal with Iran. France came under criticism for its stance from some who accused France of trying to assume leadership in the West and currying favor with Iran’s enemies.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, trying to save face, insisted there had been progress and added negotiations will continue Nov. 20. He asserted that the U.S. was "grateful" to the French and even agreed with France’s doubts about the deal.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius broke ranks with the other members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany when he spoke of France’s concerns over Iran's enrichment of uranium and its likelihood of producing plutonium. The other countries, along with EU representative Catherine Ashton, were looking for initial caps on Iran’s nuclear bomb capacity while iran wanted a softening of the sanctions brought against it.

Francois Heisbourg of the Foundation for Strategic Research said:

You know, the French are very irritating. When the Americans absolutely want to do something, the French have this terrible habit of somewhat disagreeing. We actually have experience in dealing with the Iranians directly. There used to be negotiations between the Europeans (and the Iranians) between 2003 and 2005. The Americans haven't spoken to the Iranians since 1979. And the Americans are telling us how it should be done . . . maybe they just want a deal—it happens all the time in history: People badly want a deal and end up by negotiating against themselves.

Meanwhile, on Sunday’s Meet The Press, Kerry bellowed, "We are not blind, and I don't think we're stupid. I think we have a pretty strong sense of how to measure whether or not we are acting in the interests in our country, and of the globe, and particularly of our allies, like Israel, and Gulf states, and others in the region."

France’s motivation for its tanking of the nuclear deal isn’t financial; there are billions of French dollars from companies like oil giant Total and PSA Peugeot Citroen on hold while Iran is dealing with the sanctions against it.  French President Francois Hollande is scheduled to travel to Israel in November and according to Fabius, French officials have been keeping Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed about what has been happening in Geneva about the Geneva talks, a cooperation that is a far cry from Barack Obama’s administration repeatedly leaking information regarding an Israeli strike on Iran.

A Twitter account that is hotly rumored to have the blessing of Iran's Supreme Leader—Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, wrote, "(hash)French officials have been openly hostile towards the (hash)Iranian nation over the past few years; this is an imprudent and inept move.”

Salman Shaikh, director of The Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, explained that France has considerably hardened its stance toward Iran’s nuclear program in the last ten years, having previously taken a softer stance than other countries. He said, "For France to have the contrary view now, it shows just how far Iran's nuclear program has advanced."

U.S. Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham bluntly applauded the French, saying, "Thank God for France and thank God for pushback. ... The French are becoming very good leaders in the Mideast."


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