French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
LAUSANNE, Switzerland - France's foreign minister said on Saturday that his country wanted an agreement over Iran's nuclear program that was sufficiently robust to guarantee that Tehran could not acquire an atomic bomb.
"France wants an agreement, but a robust one that really guarantees that Iran can have access to civilian nuclear power, but not the atomic bomb," Laurent Fabius told Europe 1 radio.
Iran and six world powers suspended negotiations on a nuclear agreement on Friday and are set to meet again next week to break a deadlock over sensitive atomic research and lifting of sanctions. France has been demanding more stringent restrictions on the Iranians under any deal than the other Western delegations, officials said.
Earlier this week French diplomats questioned
the optimism expressed by Iranian officials that negotiations over its nuclear program have neared a critical breakthrough.
Iranian Atomic Energy Organization chief Ali Akbar Salehi’s assertion that 90 percent of technical issues in the talks have been agreed upon is “not correct,” one European official told journalists in Lausanne on Thursday.
Fabius has been the most vocally critical of the state of talks in recent days.
“Contrary to what many think, that we are only discussing one issue, it is not correct,” the diplomat told reporters. “We are discussing many issues and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
He said research and development on centrifuges is one of many issues still log-jamming the talks.
“Research and development currently has become the most critical and difficult issue, and there won’t be an accord if the Iranians don’t back down,” he said, adding that political issues, not just technical, are slowing progress.