Archive for the 'Iran-France Relations' Category

“Saudi Arabia, Egypt hope peace process, arms will counter Iran’s influence”

“Saudi Arabia, Egypt hope peace process, arms will counter Iran’s influence”
November 10-19, 2009
     Ahead of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Michael Slackman writes that Saudi Arabia and Egypt are losing their regional influence to Iran partly due to the failure of the US to convince Israel to freeze its building of settlements. Slackman writes that while Riyadh is stressing Arab unity, specifically by drawing Syria away from Iran and in support of the peace process, Cairo believes a lack of progress on the peace process will continue to undermine the regional influence of America’s two closest Arab allies. Riyadh’s strategy may involve allowing Damascus to assert political control of Lebanon (New York Times).
     Riyadh is reportedly hoping that France will be able to help reinvigorate the peace process after a “disappointing” US effort. Sarkozy and Saudi officials also discussed potential arms deals and peaceful nuclear cooperation (BBC). Iran’s rising influence is continuing to drive arms procurements among the Arab states [previously covered here] (United Press International).
New York Times | BBC | United Press International


“US analysts greet draft LEU agreement with caution”

“US analysts greet draft LEU agreement with caution”
October 21, 2009
     US analysts are responding to the draft uranium export deal with caution and skepticism. Michael Singh writes that while the deal [previously covered here] is a “bold and innovative” move by the US to test Iran’s peaceful intentions, it comes at the cost of legitimizing Iran’s uranium enrichment activities and demoralizing Iran’s opposition movement (Foreign Policy). Kristen Silverberg adds that the deal, if agreed to, would effectively prevent additional sanctions while Iran potentially remains able to speed up enrichment efforts by activating more centrifuges and any undeclared facilities (Foreign Policy (2)). Joshua Pollack calculates that Iran could recreate the uranium to be exported in less than half a year (Arms Control Wonk).
     Under the deal, drafted by the IAEA, 1,200 kg of Iran’s LEU would be shipped in bulk to Russia by the end of the year for further enrichment. To placate Iran’s hard line against France during negotiations, France’s role in preparing fuel rods would be considered optional (Guardian). Iran’s negotiator Ali Asghar Soltanieh emphasized that Russia is the main partner in the draft deal (Tehran Times).
Foreign Policy | Foreign Policy (2) | Arms Control Wonk | Guardian | Tehran Times

“Impact of Iran bombing on LEU agreement unclear after first day of talks”

“Impact of Iran bombing on LEU agreement unclear after first day of talks”
October 19-21, 2009
     IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei called the first day of talks between Iran, the IAEA, and Russia, France and the US “constructive” despite Iran’s refusal to negotiate with France on the proposed uranium export agreement [previously covered here]. Julian Borger points out that while an agreement between Iran and Russia remains in the works, Tehran’s push to limit both the amount and time spent outside Iran of the exported LEU would undermine the US and French intent of the proposed agreement (Guardian). Massimo Calabresi reports that the US has been negotiating the agreement with the other parties since June after learning through the IAEA that Iran required nuclear fuel for a research reactor. The US has pressed Russia to ensure that the source of the uranium for the agreement come from Iran’s stockpile (Time).
     Ahead of the talks, Iranian leaders accused the US, Britain and Pakistan of being involved in two suicide bombings near the Pakistani border that killed 7 IRGC commanders and over 30 others. The terrorist group Jundallah, which has reportedly received US support, claimed responsibility (New York Times). Kaveh L. Afrasiabi writes that strong suspicion in Tehran of US, British and Israeli complicity in the attacks could undermine recent confidence-building efforts and lead President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to take a harder line against the US (Asia Times Online).
Guardian | Time | New York Times | Asia Times Online

“Iran declares revelation of new enrichment site a ‘winning hand’”

“Iran declares revelation of new enrichment site a ‘winning hand’”
September 25-27, 2009
     Last week’s revelation of a second Iranian uranium-enrichment facility in Qom has “changed everybody’s calculations,” according to Gary Sick. Sick writes that this development strengthens the negotiating hand of the P5+1 not only by making the threat of new sanctions credible but also by creating uncertainty on the Iranian side over how much information is known to Western intelligence. However, Sick warns that sanctions alone will not convince Tehran to abandon its nuclear program and argues that the P5+1 will have to offer substantive incentives, such as a conditional removal of sanctions, to avoid further escalation of tensions that could lead to war (Daily Beast). Juan Cole warns analysts to “beware the hype” over the Qom facility, arguing that Iran’s secrecy is neither new nor necessarily illegal in this case, though he shares suspicions that the new site is technically unsuitable for peaceful uranium enrichment (Informed Comment).
     Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other officials have defended the legality of the site, declaring that IAEA inspectors would be allowed access, and are describing the revelations as a victory for Iran as they have taken the West by surprise and foiled military threats by developing multiple nuclear facilities (The National). However, Julian Borger and Patrick Wintour report that Iran disclosed their development of a “pilot-scale enrichment plant” to the IAEA only after learning it had been discovered by Western intelligence (The Guardian), and James Acton argues that Iran has indeed violated its obligations under the IAEA’s modified Code 3.1 (which Iran accepted in 2003 before suspending) to declare new nuclear sites before construction (Carnegie Endowment).
     ISIS has obtained satellite imagery of two possible locations of the newly declared facility (ISIS).
Daily Beast | Informed Comment | The National | The Guardian | Carnegie Endowment | ISIS

“P5+1 accept Iran proposal; battle begins over agenda for October talks”

“P5+1 accept Iran proposal; battle begins over agenda for October talks”
September 10-14, 2009
     In its proposal for negotiations submitted to the P5+1 nations, Iran calls for talks on promoting the universality of the NPT and establishing an “equitable oversight function” for the IAEA to enable civilian uses of nuclear energy. While the proposal calls for “complete [nuclear] disarmament” and the prevention of nuclear proliferation, it does not refer directly to the Iranian nuclear issue. The proposal also mentions fostering peace and democracy in unstable regions, citing the “fundamental rights” of the Palestinians as a specific example, as well as reforming the UNSC and fighting terrorism and organized crime (ProPublica).
     In an interview, Samareh Hashemi, a close aide to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, compares the proposals to US President Barack Obama’s calls for complete nuclear disarmament and states that Iran hopes to establish a “new regime to prevent nuclear weapons worldwide.” Hashemi argues that the US position on the Iranian nuclear issue is being dictated by Israel and calls for the UNSC structure to be changed (Washington Post).
     The US said the proposal was “not really responsive” to concerns over Iran’s nuclear program, while Russia stated that the proposal deserved a unified response and repeated its opposition to sanctions (Agence France-Presse, Haaretz). The US accepted the offer for talks and insisted that the Iranian nuclear program would be on the agenda, and Iran has suggested the issue could be discussed if conditions are “ripe” (Al Jazeera). The talks are scheduled to start in October (Reuters).
ProPublica | Washington Post | Agence France-Presse | Haaretz | Al Jazeera | Reuters

“IAEA report could convince Russia, China to support sanctions”

“IAEA report could convince Russia, China to support sanctions”
August 29-31, 2009
     The P5+1 nations will hold high-level talks in Germany on Wednesday to discuss Iran’s nuclear program (Reuters) ahead of a ministerial meeting scheduled for later this month. Louis Charbonneau writes that the IAEA’s latest Iran report [previously covered here] will be central to Western efforts to convince Russia and China to approve a fourth round of UN sanctions against Iran. Some Western analysts are skeptical that Russia and China will change their positions despite the IAEA’s critical report, but French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner stated that he believes the sanctions will be accepted (Reuters (2)).
     In an analysis emphasizing instances of Iranian cooperation cited by the IAEA report, Howard LaFranchi writes that the report could complicate efforts to implement more sanctions. LaFranchi suggests that Iran may be hoping that its increased cooperation with IAEA inspectors at the Natanz enrichment site will prevent China and Russia from supporting sanctions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that if the UN is unable to pass new sanctions, a “coalition of the willing” could do so without a UNSC decision (Christian Science Monitor).
Reuters | Reuters (2) | Christian Science Monitor

“G8 affirms Iran’s nuclear rights, sets September deadline for progress”

“G8 affirms Iran’s nuclear rights, sets September deadline for progress”
July 8, 2009
     A joint statement by the G8 powers affirms Iran’s right to a civilian nuclear program but adds that Iran must cooperate with the IAEA and the UN Security Council to “restore confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear activities”. The G8 will “take stock of the situation” in September (MOFA). In a reference to Russia, which opposes further sanctions against Iran, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that discussions on sanctions were held off “to bring everyone on board”, adding that “the more reserved among us agreed that [the G20 meeting scheduled for late September] was the time for decisions” (Reuters).
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Japan) | Reuters