November 12, 2013 | Quote
French Exceptionalism? Why France Scuttled Iran Nuclear Agreement.
“Tonight I'm eating FRENCH fries,” read a tweet this weekend from Rick Grenell, the US's spokesperson at the UN when France opposed an invasion of Iraq in 2003, and who gave rise to the American term “Freedom fries.”
His comments over the weekend were in response to French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who went on air saying a deal with Iran flopped because France will not accept a “sucker's deal.”
It's unclear what actually went on in Geneva, as the “P5+1” group that includes France, Russia, China, the US, Britain, and Germany seemed close to an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program but then failed. In fact US Secretary of State John Kerry said Monday that it was actually Iran that didn't accept the terms.
But Mr. Fabius's words have echoed around the globe, raising many questions about France's relationship with Iran and its motivations in moving as far right as the most hawkish Americans – some of whom continue to applaud their unlikely ally, France – on the question of Iran. Here are some of the theories, some cynical, some not, that are circulating:
- France knows something is not right. The same story from Foreign Policy quotes experts who say that France's knowledge of Iran's program is next to none.
Paris has extensive knowledge of Iran's nuclear program, which they helped establish decades ago by supplying Iranian Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi with the technology and equipment that helped him build a uranium enrichment facility near the city of Isfahan. Mark Dubowitz – the executive director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a hawkish think-tank in Washington – said France was uniquely positioned to spot potential flaws in the agreement because it has an array of officials who have [been] working almost exclusively on nuclear issues for more than a decade and understand both the technical aspects of Iran's nuclear program and the economic impact of the hard-hitting economic sanctions that have been imposed in response.