Obama 'Bullying' France to Accept His Iran Concessions, Report Claims

Jeffdunetz | March 27, 2015
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Apparently, Israel is not the only U.S. ally having problems with the concessions being made to Iran to seal a nuclear deal. For the past week, there have been reports of disagreements between the United States and France over the possible nuclear agreement, and the Obama Administration is pushing France to agree with its position. 

The New York Times reported:

While American officials have sought to play down reports of differences with French officials, Mr. Kerry’s comments were at odds with the views of French diplomats who have expressed alarm that the West may undermine its own negotiating leverage by rushing to complete an initial understanding.

(..)  But in a message on Twitter on Friday that reflected the views of other French officials, Gérard Araud, France’s ambassador to the United States, warned that it was risky to stick with a firm March 31 deadline.

“Repeating that an agreement has to be reached by the end of March is a bad tactic,” Mr. Araud wrote in a message that got the attention of Obama administration officials. “Pressure on ourselves to conclude at any price.”

The Washington Free Beacon is reporting the administration is working to silence criticism of its Iran negotiations even from allies participating in the talks. the report, some witnesses have described the American behavior as bullying:

A series of conversations between top American and French officials, including between President Obama and French President Francois Hollande, have seen Americans engage in behavior described as bullying by sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The disagreement over France’s cautious position in regard to Iran threatens to erode U.S. relations with Paris, sources said.

Strategic differences remain between the United States and its allies over how a final deal should look, the source said. The French remain opposed to a recent range of concessions made by the Obama administration.

Some of the Free Beacon's sources worry that the President is sacrificing U.S. alliances for a political legacy.

“The President could be hammering out the best deal in the history of diplomacy, and it still wouldn’t be worth sacrificing our alliances with France, Israel, and Saudi Arabia—key partners in Europe, the eastern Mediterranean, and the Gulf,” the source said. “But he’s blowing up our alliances to secure a deal that paves Iran’s way to a bomb.”

Seemingly breakig with the U.S. delegation, France’s foreign minister Laurent Fabius said earlier this week he was insistent that the nuclear deal be sufficiently “robust” to convince other contries in the region that Iran won't be able to build nuclear weapons. Otherwise, it will lead to a proliferation of nuclear weapons across the region.  

The Times of Israel reports that France has taken a "tougher line on an Iran deal almost from the beginning, insisting on significant concessions from Tehran in the framework of an agreement."

In the recent round of talks in Switzerland this weekend, cut short Friday because of the death of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s mother, Fabius reportedly called the French delegation to make sure no more concessions were made, Reuters reported.

This news comes atop an Associated Press report that the Administration may allow Iran to operate hundreds of centrifuges at their Fordo facility, which is in a reinforced bunker built inside a mountain.  According to those with knowledge of the negotiations, Iran would no longer be allowed to enrich uranium at the Fordo site.

Instead of uranium, which can be enriched to be the fissile core of a nuclear weapon, any centrifuges permitted at Fordo would be fed elements such as zinc, xenon or germanium for separating out isotopes used in medicine, industry or science, the officials said. The number of centrifuges would not be enough to produce the amount of uranium needed to produce a weapon within a year — the minimum time-frame that Washington and its negotiating partners demand.

The video below from The Wall Street Journal TV discusses some of the issues surrounding the Fordo concessions.