There might be a historic nuclear deal on the table between the five major world powers and Iran if it wasn't for that meddling France. Word coming out of negotiations in Geneva this weekend points to France as the lone holdout for stricter sanctions than those agreed to by other countries.
There was plenty of optimism heading into Saturday negotiations. But after marathon negotiations, France raised issues with the agreement on the table. The five of U.N. Security Council's permanent countries -- China, Britain, France, Russia and the U.S. -- are bargaining for a short-term agreement with Iran to restrain the country's controversial nuclear program and make it more transparent. In exchange, the five countries have agreed to limited scale backs of international sanctions. France decided Saturday a deal must include calls for Iran to shutdown its Arak nuclear reactor that "could produce enough plutonium for several nuclear weapons a year once it goes online," according to NBC News. There is so far no proof Iran has any intention to build nuclear weapons. "As I speak to you, I cannot say there is any certainty that we can conclude," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told France Inter radio. He said his country couldn't accept a "sucker's deal".
But other diplomats are very clearly not pleased with their French counterpart. More than a few were perfectly fine with throwing France under the bus to the press. Per Reuters:
"The Americans, the EU and the Iranians have been working intensively together for months on this proposal, and this is nothing more than an attempt by Fabius to insert himself into relevance late in the negotiations," the diplomat told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Israel will probably be pleased with France's behavior. Negotiations continued late Saturday but a deal seemed further away than most expected Saturday morning. All hope is not lost. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters negotiations "will continue in one week or 10 days," if a deal isn't reached this weekend.
Reprinted with permission from the Atlantic Wire. The original story -- which ran on Saturday, Nov. 9 -- can be found here.
This article was published in Global Security Newswire, which is produced independently by National Journal Group under contract with the Nuclear Threat Initiative. NTI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group working to reduce global threats from nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.