France clueless on Iran

By Pepe Escobar (Asia Times – The Roving Eye)

Here is definitive proof – if any was needed – that the Gallic fit-throwing that burned the possibility of an interim Iranian nuclear deal last week in Geneva was completely pointless.

French Minister for Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius speaks during a media conference in TunisThe key “concern” expressed by Israel-firster French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius to derail an interim deal was about the Arak heavy-water reactor.

Well, UN inspectors this week reported that they had detected no new developments in Arak over the three months since August. [1]

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, was also in Tehran on Monday, and – unusually for his trademark paperboy role for Washington – had nothing to complain about.

Fabius used the Arak gambit at the last minute in Geneva to derail the talks, provoking the ire of even fellow European diplomats. That was out of pure disinformation; Tehran was already doing what Fabius insisted they were not doing.

A EU diplomat (non-French) confirmed to Asia Times Online that Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif had already informed US Secretary of State John Kerry about these euphemistically defined “confidence-building measures”. Kerry was fully aware before he landed in Geneva on his way to sign an interim deal.

But guess what: the French were clueless. Kerry did not tell anybody else on the P5+1 table (comprising the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany) because he feared any leaks. This proves once again that this infinitely complex negotiation is really between Washington and Tehran. Russia and China are behaving – so far – as sort of quiet (and wary) observers. Yet Kerry, Francophile that he is, should have know better about Gallic peacock instincts.

Fabius – acting on orders of “popular” (26% and sinking) President Francois Hollande – started to pre-emptively torpedo the negotiations even before Kerry landed in Geneva. Arak was the perfect pretext to shade France’s true agenda; to act as an agent of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and to secure future fat contracts from those paragons of democracy, the Wahhabi-dominated Gulf Counter-revolution Club, aka the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

So Fabius was not only totally clueless about privileged Kerry-Zarif information; he felt like a spurned lover (Moliere to the rescue).

Make no mistake. Kerry – following President Barack Obama’s brief – badly wants a deal. But as this is a P5+1 affair, he simply cannot out the French as spoilers. Thus the subsequent tactic earlier this week of “blaming” Iran – as in “they were not ready for a deal yet”.

Assorted European diplomats have been spinning, off the record, that yes, there was a nearly done deal, but the Iranian delegation still had to go back to Tehran to get ultimate approval from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. That’s exactly the line that Kerry followed during the week.

The whole saga restarts next Wednesday. There is no question Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif made sure the IAEA would be able to attest, from inside Iran, that goodwill is still the name of the game. This is how they controlled their own opposition – the hard line Revolutionary Guards.

Heavy water Arak is not the problem. Heavy Gallic posturing is. Let’s see whether the Fabius reactor will leak again next week, or whether Kerry will be able to contain it.

1. IAEA: Iran has not expanded nuclear facilities in last 3 months, RT, November 14, 2013.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

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