Even though history supposedly began in 2009, I’m old enough to remember when the French were derided as cheese eating surrender monkeys. Now, under a socialist government no less, they are standing up for the free world where America won’t. The news from Lausanne, Switzerland, is that they are the ones expressing the most skepticism about the deal pushed by the Obama administration that will, make no mistake, give Iranians the bomb. Here’s the Wall Street Journal observes:
“Making the end of March an absolute deadline is counterproductive and dangerous,” France’s ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud, said via Twitter after the latest round of negotiations in Switzerland concluded Friday.
“No agreement without concrete decisions on issues beyond the enrichment capability question,” he said a day earlier, specifically mentioning the need for extensive monitoring and clarity on Iran’s past research work. Western officials believe they included the pursuit of nuclear-weapon capabilities.
In a sign of France’s determination, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called his negotiating team in Lausanne on Thursday to insist no deal could be forged that allowed for the rapid easing of U.N. Security Council measures, according to European officials.
France worries the quick repeal of the U.N. penalties could lead to a broader collapse of the West’s financial leverage over Tehran, according to these officials.French diplomats, however, say their strong stance against nuclear proliferation has been a central foreign policy tenet for years. By remaining one of the world’s few nuclear powers, France can maintain an independent role in global affairs.
Paris is demanding Tehran address evidence that it has conducted research into the development of nuclear weapons to get those U.N. penalties relaxed. Iran has for years denied the allegations and some officials fear that forcing Tehran to publicly reverse itself could break the diplomacy.
France has strong ties to Israel and the Arab world, so this might be a major reason for their tough stance. As the article notes, French defense companies have signed lucrative arms deals with both the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia in the fairly recent past. Neither of those two countries like the idea of a deal that strengthens Iran and gives it the bomb.
Of course, it should also be noted that the threat to France by a nuclear armed Iran is also a lot more immediate that it is for the United States. After all, Paris is much closer to Tehran than New York City; Washington, DC; or Los Angeles are.*
At any rate, we should hope France continues to hold its tough line. The current deal, which only the Obama administration is desperate for, is going to give Iran the bomb. At worst, the Iranians would have to wait a few years before the heat of the initial restrictions are off. France appears to be willing to risk the collapse of these talks if it means keeping Iran from getting closer to the nuclear bomb. Hopefully, they will go that far if necessary. It’s a sad and strange day when Americans are having to rely on French socialists to stand up for our interests more than our own President.
*=For that matter, the same could be said of any European country.