France presents four demands on Iran deal
French president says Paris “will not tolerate nuclear proliferation”
French President Francois Hollande on Sunday laid out four demands which must be in place for an agreement with Iran to successfully rein in its nuclear program, Agence France-Presse reported.
“France is in favor of an interim agreement but on the basis of four points,” AFP quoted him as saying at a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
“The first demand: put all the Iranian nuclear installations under international supervision, right now. Second point: suspend enrichment to 20 percent. Thirdly: to reduce the existing stock.
“And finally, to halt construction of the Arak (heavy water) plant. These are the points which for us are essential to guarantee any agreement,” he said.
Hollande’s visit to Israel was on the eve of a new round of talks in Geneva between world powers and Iran seeking to reach an agreement to scale back Tehran’s contested nuclear program.
France is a member of the six global powers conducting negotiations with Iran.
Standing next to Hollande, Netanyahu said he was “gravely concerned” that attempts to sign a deal would succeed.
“I’m concerned, gravely concerned, that this deal will go through and in one stroke of the pen, it will reduce the sanctions on Iran -- sanctions that took years to put in place -- and in return for this, Iran gives practically nothing,” Netanyahu said.
“It’s clear that this agreement is good only for Iran and that it's really bad for the rest of the world,” he said. “Iran’s dream deal is the world’s nightmare.”
Netanyahu has condemned a proposal, to be discussed in a third round of talks between six world powers and Tehran on Nov. 20-23, to ease economic sanctions on Iran if it suspends parts of its nuclear program.
Israel and Western powers suspect Iran’s uranium enrichment program is part of a covert drive to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, an allegation Tehran vehemently denies.
Before meeting Netenyahu, Hollande vowed to take a tough stance toward Iran and said his country will not tolerate the proliferation of nuclear arms as he began a three-day visit to Israel.
“France will not tolerate nuclear proliferation,” AFP quoted him as saying in a speech on the red carpet shortly after landing at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.
“As long as we are not certain that Iran has decided to give up on nuclear weapons, we will continue with all our demands and with sanctions,” he added.
Israel has voiced concerns that an emerging deal with global powers gives Iran too much without getting enough in return.
“When France defends its positions in the discussions under way, it of course takes into account the issues which you have explained but it is also with an awareness of what is at stake for the planet,” AFP quoted the French president as saying.
“France considers nuclear proliferation to be a menace, a danger, and in Iran particularly a menace to Israel, to the region and clearly a menace to the entire world,” he added.
At the airport ceremony, attended by Netanyahu and Israeli President Shimon Peres, Hollande said France was taking Israel’s concerns into account.
“I will always remain a friend of Israel,” Reuters quoted Hollande as saying in Hebrew