Optimistic Paris Faces Narrow Flexibility in US-Iranian Nuclear Deal Controversy

Optimistic Paris Faces Narrow Flexibility in US-Iranian Nuclear Deal Controversy

Wednesday, 7 February, 2018 - 10:00
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian meets his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif on the sidelines of a European Union meeting in Brussels in January 2018. PHOTO: Mehr News Agency
Paris- Michel Abu Najm
Iran virtually closed the door to any mediation that could be carried out by the EU countries, namely France, to break the impasse hovering over US intentions to pull out from the nuclear agreement between the P5+1 group and Tehran in July of 2015.

Observing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s Monday statements during a press conference, Iran refuses to discuss its military capabilities "with anyone", especially when it comes to its ballistic missiles program.

With Iran refusing to renegotiate the nuclear agreement, any space for mediation has completely disappeared.

Europeans find themselves caught between Washington and Tehran, both showing non-negotiable resilience.

United States President Donald Trump labeled the pact as the worst in US history. Determined to rewrite most terms, he gave Congress and European countries four months to complete the task or Washington backrolls on the agreement.

The US also deplores Iran's ballistic missile program, slamming it as "destabilizing" to regional security and denounces the latter’s continued support for terrorism.

On the other hand, Iran rejects US agenda and assumed threats, in addition to Washington’s new sanctions imposed on the pretext of supporting terrorism and the lack of respect for human rights.

In this regard, French official sources say that the “margin of flexibility” between the two parties is very narrow.

However, Paris “has not lost hope,” sources told Asharq Al-Awsat.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian visiting Tehran on the fifth of March will be an opportunity to “assess the situation and see if there is a possibility to do something,” sources added.

It is no secret that Paris is one of the strongest advocates of the nuclear agreement, but is also in agreement with Washington on other issues. Le Drian accused Tehran on January 22 of "violating international resolution 2231" which limits Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities.

On December 13, the French minister expressed his country's rejection of Iran's attempt to establish regional hegemony.

Despite the existence of a “gap” between Paris and Tehran, the French side believes that it has a "role" to play in the Iranian file.

France is the only "qualified" European country today to take on US-Iran mediation efforts in view of the preoccupation of Britain and Germany with internal problems, a source explained.

Washington cannot accept Russia as a "mediator" because of rising tensions between the two, the source added.

Playing a fair game to Iran, Paris offers “determination” to maintain the nuclear deal as it considers essential in “maintaining nuclear non-proliferation policy.”

The French view is that today there is a nuclear problem with North Korea and abandoning the agreement with Tehran would mean “the emergence of a second North Korea.”

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