France says Iran nuclear deal must be verifiable

France says Iran nuclear deal must be verifiable
Speaking in advance of a meeting between EU foreign ministers and the Iranian foreign minister, France's foreign minister said any deal with Iran should prevent the possibility of 'backsliding'.
3 min read
22 June, 2015
A protest against the ongoing nuclear negotiations in Iran, 23 May [Getty]

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said any nuclear deal with Iran must be verifiable as he prepared to meet his Iranian counterpart on Monday with a deadline looming for an agreement.

"We think that we must be extremely firm and that, if an agreement is to be reached, that agreement must be robust," Fabius told journalists on Sunday at a joint news conference in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who strongly opposes the deal currently on the table. "That means that it must be able to be verified."

He also warned that any deal had to ensure no backsliding was possible.

European foreign ministers are scheduled to meet their Iranian counterpart Mohamed Javad Zarif on Monday, ahead of a June 30 deadline for an international accord on Tehran's nuclear programme.

We think that we must be extremely firm and that, if an agreement is to be reached, that agreement must be robust.
-French foreign minister

Speaking as he arrived for a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Luxembourg before talks with Zarif, British foreign secretary Philip Hammond said: "There will need to be some more flexibility shown by our Iranian partners if we are going to reach a deal."

He added: "I think the serious negotiations are now getting underway and over the next week, I hope to start to see some progress."

Speaking to Iranian state TV before the meeting, Zarif said all sides in the nuclear talks should avoid "excessive" demands. He noted differences on both technical and political issues.

Iran and the P5+1 powers - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - agreed in April on the main outlines of what would be a historic agreement scaling down Tehran's nuclear programme.

The world powers and Iran set themselves the deadline of June 30, having missed an earlier March 31 deadline, to finalise what would be a highly complex accord, and negotiators have been meeting regularly in Vienna and elsewhere in recent weeks.

The west say it fears that Iran's nuclear programme has military objectives but Tehran insists is for purely peaceful energy development purposes.

Parliament votes to restrict inspections

Meanwhile, the Iranian Parliament voted on Sunday to ban access to military sites, documents and scientists in any future deal with world powers over its contested nuclear programme.

If ratified, the bill could complicate the ongoing talks in Vienna between Iran and the six-nation group - the US, Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany - as they face a self-imposed June 30 deadline. The talks are focused on reaching a final accord that curbs Iran's nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

The bill must be ratified by the Guardian Council, a constitutional watchdog, to become a law.