Israeli Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz, on a last-minute diplomatic mission to Paris, has told the AP on Monday that he has hopes for a dialogue with France over Iran’s nuclear program, which “has proven in the past that it was productive.”
Steinitz and Israel’s national security adviser, Yossi Cohen, have been meeting with French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and top French diplomats. In late 2013, France played a key role in freezing key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for partial relief from Western sanctions. France continues to be more demanding of Iran than the U.S. and other Western diplomats.
Steinitz told the AP that only a deal that would “dismantles, not simply freezes” Iran’s nuclear program would be acceptable to Israel.
Former Israeli ambassador to Germany Shimon Stein, who is familiar with the negotiations, told AP that Steinitz’s trip to France makes perfect sense, considering Israel’s objection to the aparent direction of the talks.
Stein said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress March 3 was the most Israel was able to do in urging the U.S. Administration to lean closer to its point of view. From Israel’s perspective, then, France, as well as the U.K., are the most skeptical European participants in the talks.
“It’s only natural that given Netanyahu’s concern of a deal with Iran that he would turn to France, ” Stein said. “France is the weak link among the group.”
Steinitz told the AP: “We don’t have a plan B, we only have a plan A, and this is to try to prevent a bad deal with Iran or at least to try to make it more reasonable and to close some of the gaps and loopholes that made it even worse.”