French Leader Defends Iran-Trade Stance, Amid U.S. Sanctions Concerns

Global Security Newswire Staff
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Global Security Newswire Staff
Feb. 12, 2014, 6:57 a.m.

French Pres­id­ent Fran­cois Hol­lande de­fen­ded his Ir­an trade policy as Pres­id­ent Obama pledged to ham­mer sanc­tions vi­ol­at­ors, the New York Times re­ports.

The lead­ers spoke to­geth­er days after dozens of high-level French en­tre­pren­eurs vis­ited Tehran in an ef­fort to cap­it­al­ize on an in­ter­im nuc­le­ar ac­cord with Middle East­ern na­tion. The six-month agree­ment, which took ef­fect in Janu­ary, grants lim­ited sanc­tions re­lief to Ir­an in ex­change for tem­por­ary re­stric­tions on the coun­try’s nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies.

“Busi­nesses may be ex­plor­ing, are there some pos­sib­il­it­ies to get in soon­er rather than later if and when there is an ac­tu­al agree­ment to be had,” Obama told re­port­ers dur­ing a joint ap­pear­ance with Hol­lande at the White House. “But I can tell you that they do so at their own per­il right now be­cause we will come down on them like a ton of bricks.”

The half-year, mul­ti­lat­er­al agree­ment is in­ten­ded to pave the way for a longer-term deal to ad­dress fears in Wash­ing­ton, Par­is and else­where that Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram is geared to­ward de­vel­op­ment of a nuc­le­ar-arms cap­ab­il­ity. France, the United States, and four oth­er na­tions ne­go­ti­ated the pact with the Per­sian Gulf power, which denies har­bor­ing any mil­it­ary am­bi­tions for its atom­ic activ­it­ies.

Speak­ing at the press con­fer­ence, Hol­lande said he had urged par­ti­cipants in last week’s trip to re­frain from en­ter­ing in­to busi­ness deals with Ir­an pri­or to the en­act­ment of sanc­tions re­lief. He ad­ded, though, that the French gov­ern­ment ul­ti­mately can­not re­strict the private ac­tions of busi­nesses.

“The pres­id­ent of the re­pub­lic is not the pres­id­ent of the em­ploy­ers’ uni­on in France,” he said.

Obama said he and Hol­lande both saw a “need to con­tin­ue en­for­cing ex­ist­ing sanc­tions even as we be­lieve that new sanc­tions dur­ing these ne­go­ti­ations would en­danger the pos­sib­il­ity of a dip­lo­mat­ic solu­tion,” Re­u­ters re­por­ted.

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