New York, September 26, 2014
THE MINISTER – On Iran, the French President and I met President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif, but there were other contacts; there are also the talks Mrs Ashton is having with the Iranians on our behalf. But as I speak, there’s been no significant progress. (…)
In any case, we must meet again soon, because I remind you that the deadline is 24 November. We just regret that there’s been no progress, because this issue is also among those which determine security, not only in that region but much more broadly. (…)
Q. – On the Iranian nuclear issue, can you say what the obstacles are? Are they still the same? And given your pessimistic comments, do you think there’s a good chance of concluding things by 24 November?
THE MINISTER – The major issue is this: the Iranians have every right to use civilian nuclear energy; do they agree or not to give up the atomic bomb? In the first agreement we reached – and it’s a provisional agreement – we ensured, at France’s proposal, that the following sentence featured high up in the preamble. It’s a sentence that was uttered by the Iranian President himself and so I suggested putting it into our agreement: “Under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons”. It’s then a question of agreeing on all the technical consequences to be drawn from this commitment. So what does that mean? Talking [firstly] about the Arak reactor, which, in its first version, is a so-called plutonium production reactor and which therefore entails a whole series of dangers in relation to giving up that aim. Secondly, talking about the issue of centrifuges: if you give up moving towards a nuclear weapon, there’s no need to have an unlimited number of centrifuges. Thirdly, examining the history of Iran’s actions: in order to be sure everything is going to be monitored in the present and the future, you must know exactly what’s happened before. Fourthly, if you agree on this, looking at how all this will be monitored in future. And all this concludes with a definition of what the technicians call “breakout time” – i.e. the time we’ll have available to react in the event of those commitments not being honoured. And all this, of course, in a framework – if we arrive at an agreement – that will enable sanctions to be lifted, because that’s the quid pro quo. There’s a threat and a clear risk; we’ve therefore been obliged, at international level and at European level, to adopt a number of sanctions, and those sanctions will be lifted only if we’re certain – and in proportion to our certainty – that the Iranians are giving up. That’s what the discussions are focused on, with a few other aspects but I stress the main aspects. There were points on which there were a number of openings, but we agreed that nothing would actually be settled until everything was settled. So there are points on which there were a number of possibilities. (…) There was potential progress on the Arak reactor, but on others there hasn’t been any progress at the moment. And so France’s position is very, very clear: we’d like a positive solution to be reached, of course. But that agreement can be reached only if it’s actually translated into Iran giving up possessing and the prospect of possessing a nuclear weapon. (…)./.