Following reports of France’s torpedoing of nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva this weekend, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took to Twitter on Sunday morning to rail against Parisian perfidy.
“French officials have been openly hostile towards the Iranian nation over the past few years; this is an imprudent and inept move,” the ayatollah tweeted in Persian, then English, reiterating a speech delivered on March 21.
“A wise man, particularly a wise politician, should never have the motivation to turn a neutral entity into an enemy,” Khamenei tweeted.
— khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) November 10, 2013
The same statements tweeted by the supreme leader were previously delivered in a March speech in which Khamenei threatened to “raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground” should Israel strike Iran’s nuclear program. Khamenei remarked at the time that “the Zionist regime is too small to be considered among the first row of the Iranian nation’s enemies.”
The Iranian press also lashed out, squarely placing blame on France for the failure of the latest round of talks to yield a deal. “France’s spanner scuppers nuclear deal,” reads the front page headline of The Tehran Times’s Sunday paper.
“French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius caused the talks to hit a snag,” the paper reported, making little mention of US Secretary of State John Kerry’s statements throughout the negotiations that disparities remained between the two sides. Kerry, speaking to reporters after the talks broke up, acknowledged there were “certain issues that we needed to work through.”
“We’re grateful to the French for the work we did together,” Kerry said.
Tehran’s criticism came a day after Iranian state TV criticized France for demanding stricter terms to the nuclear agreement that was 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.
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.
AP contributed to this report.