Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Collapsing Talks?

President Obama is exceedingly wroth with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his public criticism of Mr. Obama's plans for a nuclear deal with Iran, but it may be that Mr. Netanyahu isn't the only concerned party who's balking at the deal. According to debkafile (a source of questionable reliability, it must be said) both Germany and France, the latter of which is acting under pressure from Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., are also getting cold feet:
President Barack Obama failed to shift French President France Hollande from his objections to the nuclear accord taking shape between the US and Iran in the call he put through to the Elysée Friday night, March 20. US Secretary of State John Kerry fared no better Saturday, when he met British, French and German Foreign ministers in London for a briefing on the talks’ progress intended to line the Europeans up with the American position. He then found, according to debkafile’s sources, that France was not alone; Germany, too, balked at parts of the deal in the making.

The French are demanding changes in five main points agreed between Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif before the Iranians quit the talks Friday:

They insist that -
  • Iran can’t be allowed to retain all the 6,500 centrifuges (for enriching uranium) conceded by the Americans. This figure must be reduced.
  • Similarly, the stocks of enriched uranium accepted by the US to remain in Iranian hands are too large.
  • France insists on a longer period of restrictions on Iran's nuclear work before sanctions are eased.
  • It's pushing for a longer moratorium – 25 years rather than the 15 years offered by the Obama administration – and guarantees at every stage.
  • The main sticking point however is France’s insistence that UN sanctions stay in place until Iran fully explains the evidence that has raised suspicions of past work on developing a nuclear warhead design.
The Iranians counter that they could never satisfy the French condition, because they would never be able to prove a negative and disprove evidence of a weapons program that is forged. There is no chance of Tehran ever admitting to working on a nuclear warhead – or allowing US inspectors access to suspected testing sites – because that would belie supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s solemn contention that Iran’s nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes and always has been.

debkafile’s Gulf sources disclose that the tough French bargaining position in the nuclear talks stems partly from its intense ties with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations, including the United Arab Emirates.
If debkafile's report is true (a big "if" given past experience with them) all this insolence is doubtless not going down well in the White House where failure to truckle to Mr. Obama's wishes is taken to be an act of lèse majesty. He has publicly let it be known that Israel will be punished in the U.N. for its temerity in re-electing Mr. Netanyahu against our president's clear desire that they repudiate him at the polls. We might well wonder what he has in store for France, Germany, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E. and any other nation which presumes to know more about what's in their own best interests than he does.