PHOTO: French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
I joined Monocle 24’s The Daily on Wednesday night to consider the nuclear talks between Iran and the 5+1 Powers, specifically evaluating why France is taking such a hard line — to the point of causing tension within the 5+1 and leading to adjournment of the discussions last week — in the negotiations.
Listen from 4:51:
I discussed the background, including France’s last-minute objections to the interim nuclear agreement in November 2013, and the current state of the talks while assessing:
Both sides have made concessions. Both sides have made moves to get the talks this far. The Iranians have come down significantly from the number of centrifuges they have asked for and, in principle, have agreed to move almost all their enriched uranium out of the country. The Americans and the other 5+1 Powers have allowed for more centrifuges than they originally asked for. There have been concessions on both sides over Iran’s nuclear facilities…and over inspections.
It is sanctions relief. That is the key issue involved here for a resolution….
What could be troublesome — I hope it’s not — is that Israel has sent high-ranking officials to France telling the French to get tougher. It is possible — that the French — are running cover for the Israelis, and this could unsettle the talks.
There is also inadvertent comedy in the discussion, after Burzine K. Waghmar of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies took a line solely blaming Iran for pursuit of a bomb and “complete nonsense” in its position on its uranium enrichment program.
I challenged Waghmar’s supposed evidence, including recent false propaganda that Iran has a “secret nuclear facility”.
His reply? Just like US right-winger Joshua Muravchik, the advocate of war on Iran whom I encountered on Monocle 24 last week, he invoked the Rumsfeldian defense for lack of facts: “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”