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Monday, November 11, 2013

Vive La France on Iran -- Review & Outlook, The Wall Street Journal


The French save the West from a very bad nuclear deal with Iran.


We never thought we'd say this, but thank heaven for French foreign-policy exceptionalism. At least for the time being, Fran├žois Hollande's Socialist government has saved the West from a deal that would all but guarantee that Iran becomes a nuclear power.

While the negotiating details still aren't fully known, the French made clear Saturday that they objected to a nuclear agreement that British Prime Minister David-Cameron and President Barack Obama were all too eager to sign. These two leaders remind no one, least of all the Iranians, of Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush. That left the French to protect against a historic security blunder, with Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius declaring in an interview with French radio that while France still hopes for an agreement with Tehran, it won't accept a "sucker's deal."

And that's exactly what seems to have been on the table as part of a "first-step agreement" good for six months as the parties negotiated a final deal. Tehran would be allowed to continue enriching uranium, continue manufacturing centrifuges, and continue building a plutonium reactor near the city of Arak. Iran would also get immediate sanctions relief and the unfreezing of as much as $50 billion in oil revenues—no small deliverance for a regime whose annual oil revenues barely topped $95 billion in 2011.

In return the West would get Iranian promises. There is a promise not to activate the Arak reactor, a promise not to use its most advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium or to install new ones, a promise to stop enriching uranium to 20%, which is near-weapons' grade, and to convert its existing stockpile into uranium oxide (a process that is reversible).

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