France calls for allies to be firm in Iran nuclear talks
GENEVA — France demanded on Thursday that the United States and its allies show “firmness” in negotiating with Iran, injecting new uncertainty into the high-stakes talks to curb Iran's nuclear program.
Echoing his statement of two weeks ago, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said agreement with Iran “can only be possible based on firmness.” He said Iran had failed to accept an offer drafted by the United States, France and four other countries after France's last intervention and added: “I hope they will accept it.”
Two weeks ago, Fabius said the agreement must be “serious and credible” and that France would not play a “fool's game.” His statement appeared to be a swipe at the Obama administration, which had a key role in drafting the accord.
The talks in Geneva, the third in five weeks, are intended to reach an interim accord for the next six months, during which a comprehensive agreement would be negotiated to curb Iran's nuclear enrichment program. That program has generated a stockpile of low-enriched uranium for which Iran has no apparent need and 440 pounds of uranium enriched to 20 percent purity, a few steps short of the grade needed in a nuclear weapon.
Iranian officials were highly critical of France. Abbas Araqchi, Iran's deputy foreign minister, said differences of opinion among the six countries in the previous round had slowed the negotiations and eroded the Iranian side's trust that its negotiating partners would remain committed to potential agreements.
“We expect the West to have a united stance over the draft,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, the head of the delegation, told Iranian state television.
Araqchi also said any deal must accept Iran's right under the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium if it's used for peaceful purposes, which the U.S. has been unwilling to acknowledge explicitly. But he hedged his demand, saying the extent, level and location of enrichment were negotiable.
One European official, speaking only anonymously as a condition of the news briefing, spoke of “noise coming from various directions” but declined to say how it had affected the negotiations.
At Iran's demand, the structure of the negotiations shifted Thursday to direct talks between Zarif and Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, who heads the negotiating team on behalf of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. The Ashton-Zarif talks lasted 4 1⁄2 hours and were “very substantial discussions,” a top U.S. official said, also speaking only anonymously as a condition of the briefing. They were “totally focused on digging into the details of the negotiations and working to make progress,” the official said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Japan Prime Minister Abe to highlight trade, defense ties with U.S. in speech before Congress
- Israel thwarts terrorist attack
- Quake-aid need acute in Nepal; death toll passes 4,000
- United States aided rebels in Caucasus, Russian President Putin claims
- Aftershocks terrify survivors of quake in Nepal that killed 2,500
- Airstrikes hit capital as fighting escalates in Yemen
- British Prime Minister Cameron defends royal couple’s private medical care choice