France sees big hurdles in search for Iran nuclear deal
British Foreign Secretary William Hague speaks to the press following his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the Iran nuclear talks in Geneva, Nov. 9, 2013. [Reuters]
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Speaking on the sidelines of crunch talks between Iran and six world powers, British and French foreign ministers on Saturday expressed uncertainty over a nuclear deal with Tehran, despite reported progress in negotiations.
“These negotiations have made very good progress and continue to make good progress. But there are still important issues to resolve, so clearly they are not over yet,” British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters during a break in the talks, according to Reuters news agency.
Still, Hague said that “momentum has built up” for an agreement.
“There is now a real concentration on these negotiations so we have to do everything we can to seize the moment and seize the opportunity to reach a deal that has eluded the world,” he said.
He said it was still “certainly not possible” that a deal would be reached by the end of Saturday.
“It is too early to say that we will reach a successful conclusion today,” he said.
The United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany are holding talks with Iran in Geneva in a bid to reach a landmark deal on Tehran’s nuclear program.
“Any agreement is going to require some flexibility on all sides... (the deal) has to be one that the world has confidence in, that the world as a whole can have confidence in,” Hague added.
His French counterpart Laurent Fabius expressed similar sentiments.
Speaking to France Inter radio from the Swiss city as the third day of talks opened, Fabius also pointed to a need to take into account “concerns” from Israel.
“There is an initial draft that we do not accept... As we speak, I have no certainty that we can finish up,” Fabius said.
“There are some points on which we are not satisfied,” the minister said, citing the “extremely prolific” Arak nuclear reactor and the question of uranium enrichment.
“There’s a whole stockpile enriched to 20 percent. That’s a lot. How can this stockpile go back down to five percent, which is less dangerous?” he asked.
Western powers suspect Tehran of enriching uranium to build a nuclear bomb. Iran denies the charge, insisting its program is peaceful.
“If these questions are not settled, it will not be possible,” Fabius said, insisting that he wanted an agreement but warning against being duped.
He added: “It is necessary to take fully into account Israel’s security concerns and those of the region.”
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