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French foreign minister casts doubt on Iran nuclear deal

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-12-19

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned Thursday that Iran may never be willing to completely give up its nuclear weapon-making capabilities, casting doubt on the chances of a final deal being struck with Tehran over its nuclear programme.

Under a landmark agreement with six world powers reached in Geneva last month, Iran agreed to suspend parts of its nuclear programme for six months in exchange for modest sanctions relief and a promise by the West not to impose new sanctions.

Talks are due to begin again in the Swiss city on Thursday with the aim of establishing a detailed technical plan on how to put the deal into practice.

It is hoped that during the six-month freeze on Iran’s nuclear programme, a longer-term agreement can be negotiated to decisively end the standoff over the country’s nuclear ambitions, after a decade of failed attempts and rising tensions.

But Fabius told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that he had concerns over how far Iran would be willing to go towards curtailing its nuclear plans.

“It is unclear if the Iranians will accept to definitively abandon any capacity of getting a weapon or only agree to interrupt the nuclear programme," he told the newspaper.

"What is at stake is to ensure that there is no breakout capacity," Fabius said, referring to Iran's possible ability to relaunch a weapons programme from dormant sites.

Iran denies wanting nuclear weapons but many in the international community suspect otherwise, and neither Israel - widely considered to be the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state - nor Washington have ruled out military action.

The six powers negotiating with Iran are known as the P5+1 and include the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany.

Thursday’s technical talks are expected to involve nuclear as well as sanctions experts from both sides and are due to continue into Friday.

They come a week after Iranian negotiators broke off similar talks in Vienna in protest against the US blacklisting of an additional 19 Iranian companies and individuals under existing sanctions, saying the move was against the spirit of the deal struck in Geneva.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2013-12-19

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