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Iran/nuclear issue

Published on November 21, 2013
Excerpts from the interview given by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to France 2

Paris, November 21, 2013

(…)

Q. – On the Iran nuclear issue, Iran’s Supreme Leader said yesterday that the State of Israel was doomed to annihilation. That’s a funny way to begin negotiations.

THE MINISTER – You don’t need me to tell you. We’re negotiating on this major issue of the Iran nuclear programme. France’s position is absolutely simple: Iran has every right to use civilian nuclear energy, but not the atomic bomb. Our position is shared by the other permanent members of the Security Council: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, China and Germany. After drafting this joint position – and France contributed to this, of course – we’re upholding it in Geneva. I hope the Iranians will end up agreeing to this position, which is wise.

Q. – The Iranians say it’s France which is blocking things because it supports Israel’s position too much.

THE MINISTER – No, it’s not in relation to Israel in particular.

Q. – That’s what the Iranians say.

THE MINISTER – You’ve also noted other statements they’re making which aren’t acceptable. Our position is in relation to the region’s security and the world’s security.

If there’s nuclear proliferation, i.e. if ever more countries have nuclear weapons, it’s a clear danger. So we are – when I say “we” it’s not simply France, even though we’re playing an important role: it’s all countries, the international community – we’re in favour of there being a right to civilian nuclear energy but not a right to atomic weapons.
For the time being, the Iranians haven’t considered themselves able to accept the position of the Six. I very much hope they will accept it, but we’ve covered ourselves…

Q. – But isn’t there a special French position, isn’t there a special French block?

THE MINISTER – No. There’s a firm position from France, yes, but it’s now been accepted by everyone. The text that is going to be upheld by Mrs Ashton, who is our spokesperson, is supported by the Six, including France.

Q. – Do you think we’re going to reach an agreement?

THE MINISTER – I hope so, but this agreement – that is, this opening – is possible only on the basis of firmness. I hope we’ll reach a solid agreement.

Q. – The Iranians want this agreement. In those conditions, how do you explain yesterday’s stance?

THE MINISTER – I think there are contradictions within the Iranian government itself. As we understand it, there are some people who are more conservative and others more open. It’s not for us to enter into those considerations; what we want is an agreement that enables us to move towards more security. (…)./.

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