UPI: Iran may not give up its atom bomb-making ability, dashing final nuclear deal hopes, France’s foreign minister said as technical talks were to resume Thursday.
United Press International
GENEVA, Switzerland, Dec. 19 (UPI) — Iran may not give up its atom bomb-making ability, dashing final nuclear deal hopes, France’s foreign minister said as technical talks were to resume Thursday.
Laurent Fabius, who played a central role in toughening terms of an interim deal between Iran and six world powers, told the Wall Street Journal he was skeptical the United States, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany — a group known as the P5-plus-1 because they’re the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany — would succeed in getting Tehran to unwind its nuclear capabilities to the point the country could no longer make a weapon.
“We have to implement honestly the first phase,” he told the newspaper in Paris.
“Then my main concern is the second phase,” he said. “It is unclear if the Iranians will accept to definitively abandon any capacity of getting a weapon or only agree to interrupt the nuclear program.”
Tehran has long defended what it calls its right to enrich uranium and to build nuclear reactors.
U.S. officials all the way up to President Obama have also expressed skepticism a final deal would be reached.
“I wouldn’t say [the chances of success are] more than 50-50,” Obama told a Washington audience at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy Dec. 7.
But he also said Washington was eager to find a way of reaching a final deal with Iran and international powers.
“Presuming that it’s going to be a bad deal and, as a consequence, not even trying for a deal I think would be a mistake,” Obama told the Saban Forum.
Tehran reached the interim deal with the P5-plus-1 Nov. 24.
The deal calls for Tehran to freeze parts of its nuclear program for six months in exchange for an easing of some Western economic sanctions. During this interim period, both sides agreed to try to reach a permanent deal to end Iran’s nuclear threat.
Fabius told the Journal France and other EU countries that agreed to ease sanctions would keep the sanctions in place until the U.N. nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency verifies Tehran has frozen the required parts of its nuclear program to comply with the interim deal.
France, the United States, Israel and other allies maintain Iran is covertly trying to develop a capacity to build nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies, insisting its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity and other civilian uses.
The technical, expert-level talks in Geneva, Switzerland, aimed at resolving differences over how to implement the interim accord, are to resume a week after Iran broke off an earlier round of talks in Vienna to protest additions to a U.S. sanctions blacklist.
Washington added 19 Iranian companies and individuals under existing sanctions. Tehran said the move violated the interim deal’s spirit.