EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva Photo by AP
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French Embassy in Israel
France’s ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave Photo by French Embassy in Israel

France’s ambassador to Israel, Patrick Maisonnave, said on Wednesday that all of the world powers that negotiated with Iran in Geneva fell in line with the French position regarding the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.

During a press conference in Tel Aviv, Maisonnave said that the United States and France are in agreement that Iran must not become a nuclear power, but that France wanted further guarantees. According to Maisonnave, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry adopted France’s position, which subsequently became the position of all six powers.

The French ambassador also stated that the world powers came close to an agreement with Iran during the last round of talks, but that French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius felt that “France’s conditions were not met” in the draft that was presented to him in Geneva last weekend.

At the time Fabius told French radio:  "We are for an agreement, that's clear. But the agreement has got to be serious and credible. The initial text made progress but not enough," he said, adding the France would not except "a suckers deal."

According to Maisonnave, France presented three main stipulations in which France demanded further guarantees within the framework of an agreement:

1. Iran’s heavy water reactor in Arak - France expressed concern that the reactor would be used to produce plutonium, and demanded guarantees prohibiting the Iranians from using it to advance their nuclear capabilities.

2. Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium – Fabius claimed that Iran is constantly expanding its enriched uranium stockpile, and demanded further guarantees regarding its uranium supply.

3. Enriching uranium on Iranian soil – the French ambassador stated that France believes in Iran’s right to nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but that end does not require enrichment facilities. According to the ambassador, the subject of enriching uranium on Iranian soil was a source of disagreement during the negotiations, which necessitated another round of talks.  

Maisonnave rejected claims made by British and German diplomats over the last weekend that Foreign Minister Fabius only expressed his reservations in order to attract international attention. Maisonnave claimed that the French foreign minister’s announcement was not based on personal considerations.

The French ambassador also stated that France and Israel are in close contact regarding the Iranian nuclear program. He pointed out that the issue will be a major focus of President Francois Hollande’s visit to Jerusalem next week.

Maisonnave also stated that during recent talks with senior Israeli officials on the subject, he felt that the Israeli government greatly appreciates France’s position during the talks in Geneva. Stating that France’s positions are not new, Maisonnave claimed that there has always been close cooperation with Israel regarding the Iranian nuclear program.