Iranian state TV on Saturday criticized France for demanding stricter terms to the nuclear agreement currently being hammered out in Geneva between world powers and Iran, calling the European country “Israel’s representatives at the talks.”
The rapporteur of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Seyed Hossein Naqavi Hosseini told Fars News Agency Saturday that “the behavior of France’s representative in the nuclear negotiations shows that France seeks to blackmail the negotiations, and this illogical behavior should be confronted by the other members of the Group 5+1 [P5+1].”
“While the French people want an improvement in the relations between Paris and Tehran, unfortunately the French government has preferred the Zionist regime’s views to its people’s demand,” he added.
“We hope that the French foreign minister casts a logical look at the negotiations,” Hosseini said.
Earlier Saturday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius spoke of “several points that … we’re not satisfied with compared to the initial text,” telling France-Inter Radio his nation does not want to be part of a “con game.”
He did not specify, but his comments suggested France thought a final draft of any first-step deal was too favorable to Iran, echoing concerns raised by Israel and several prominent US legislators.
The French position was confirmed by another Western diplomat. Both gave no specifics and demanded anonymity because they were not authorized to comment on the diplomatic maneuvering.
Fabius said Tehran was resisting demands that it suspend work on a plutonium-producing reactor and downgrade its stockpile of higher-enriched uranium to a level that cannot quickly be turned into the core of an atomic bomb.
Fabius mentioned differences over Iran’s Arak reactor southeast of Tehran, which could produce enough plutonium for several nuclear weapons a year once it goes online. He also said there was disagreement over efforts to limit Iran’s uranium enrichment to levels that would require substantial further enriching before they could be used as the fissile core of a nuclear weapon.
Fabius’s remarks to France-Inter radio were the first to provide some specifics on the obstacles at the Geneva talks. He spoke by telephone from Geneva, where he, Kerry, Lavrov and counterparts from Britain and Germany, who are negotiating with Iran, consulted on how to resolve the obstacles at the talks.
The six powers are considering a gradual rollback of sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy. In exchange, they demand initial curbs on Iran’s nuclear program, including a cap on uranium enrichment to a level that cannot be turned quickly to weapons use.
Israel lobbied hard against the deal on Saturday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz reported to have spoken to representatives of some of the P5+1 nations. President Barack Obama called Netanyahu on Friday after the prime minister publicly castigated the emerging deal as “very, very bad” and “dangerous” and said he had pleaded with Secretary of State John Kerry not to sign it. Netanyahu also spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Netanyahu has repeatedly warned the international community and the US against scaling back sanctions on Tehran, arguing that these same sanctions are what brought Iran to the negotiating table. Netanyahu also warned against any deal with Iran that would leave it with uranium enrichment capabilities.