France, one the parties to the multi-lateral nuclear deal with Iran, said Wednesday that it will not sign a deal which does not give the IAEA access to inspect Iranian military sites.
Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister, announced Wednesday that France would not sign any nuclear deal which did not give inspectors access to military sites. “Yes to an agreement, but not to an agreement that will enable Iran to have the atomic bomb,” Fabius said in Paris as reported by the NY Times.
Inspections have become an apparent sticking point in the deal, one that has slowed progress as the June 30 deadline approaches. The LA Times reported Tuesday that French ambassador to the United States Gerard Araud told a think tank in Washington it is now “very likely” the deal will not be completed by the June 30 deadline. Araud tells the Times that Iranian negotiators are currently leaving the most difficult outstanding issues for their superiors to discuss, but those officials won’t arrive until shortly before the deadline.
A framework for the deal was announced on April 2nd. Almost immediately, the U.S. and Iran began disagreeing about what each country had committed to do. For instance, Iran’s chief negotiator claimed just hours later that the deal would release his country from sanctions immediately. President Obama said sanctions relief was contingent on Iran meeting the other terms of the deal.
The LA Times spoke to a former member of the U.S. negotiating team, Richard Nephew, who said the issue of inspections access was probably the issue most likely to delay progress. A U.S. fact sheet published the day the framework was announced said that Iran had agreed to inspections anywhere in the country. Iran’s leaders have repeatedly denied that claim, saying Iranian military bases would remain off limits to IAEA inspectors.
In Iran Wednesday, Ayatollah Khamenei told a group of lawmakers that Iran’s negotiators must stand firm. “On the nuclear issues, [Iran’s] stance is the same as we have explicitly announced; the very same points have been announced to authorities verbally and in writing. These are the fundamental positions of the Islamic establishment,” Press TV reported.