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Iranians Call On France To Show Greater Flexibility

  • Golnaz Esfandiari

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (file photo)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (file photo)

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius used the term "fools' game" this week, signalling that a nuclear deal with Iran was not a sure thing. With those words, he left many Iranians bemoaning a lost opportunity, and holding France responsible.

The main sticking point in the latest round of talks was apparently Iran's Arak nuclear reactor, which is due to be completed next year. Iran has said it needs to enrich uranium for the heavy-water reactor to produce isotopes for medical and agriculture use.

But Western fears that the enrichment could also produce plutonium for nuclear weapons were too great to overcome.

Many Iranians stayed up all night anticipating a deal that could ease the harsh economic sanctions that affect their daily lives, only to have their hopes dashed. Some Iranians even left comments on Fabius's Facebook page blaming the French for taking too hard a line.

One commenter called on Fabius to recognize "the rights of the Iranian nation," while another left a message on his Facebook page pleading for him to "think about the innocent people that live under the pressure of inflation and the threat of foreign invasion."

"Please be more flexible in negotiations," wrote another. "Iranians don't want to be your enemy.'"

Iran's state media, including state-controlled television and the hard-line Fars news agency, were also critical of France, which they accused of undermining the Geneva talks.

"The behavior of France's representative in the nuclear negotiations shows that France seeks to blackmail the negotiations," Fars quoted senior lawmaker Hossein Naqvi as saying on November 8.

"While the French people want an improvement in the relations between Paris and Tehran, unfortunately, the French government has preferred the Zionist regime's views to its people's demands," the lawmaker added.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif remained upbeat, despite the lack of deal, and refrained from commenting specifically on France's role in the Geneva talks.

"Although the questions of the P5+1 should be addressed, a great deal of time is being spent on negotiations within the P5+1 group," Zarif said in his joint press appearance with EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton. "This is normal because they are six nations with different views and their own national interests and they need to agree."
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