France: No nuclear deal without access to Iran's military sites

Iran, Nuclear Deal, Centrifuges
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France is threatening to oppose a nuclear deal with Iran if it doesn't include access to military sites in the country.

“France will not accept (a deal) if it is not clear that inspections can be done at all Iranian installations, including military sites,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the French Parliament on Wednesday, according to The Jerusalem Post.

Fabius added that France still supported working toward a pact, but only one that ensures Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons.

“’Yes’ to an agreement, but not to an agreement that will enable Iran to have the atomic bomb,” he added. “That is the position of France, which is independent and peaceful."

France is one of the P5+1 nations, alongside Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the U.S., that are negotiating a deal with Tehran to curb its ability to create nuclear weapons. But France has appeared at times to take a tougher stance than the other nations.

Fabius’s comments echo similar remarks made by the head of the United Nations' atomic watchdog earlier Wednesday.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also called for Iranian military sites to be open to international inspection.

“When we find inconsistency or when we have doubts we can request access to the undeclared location for example, and this could include military sites,” Amano said, according to The Times of Israel.

“Some consideration is needed because of the sensitiveness of the site, but the IAEA has the right to request access at all locations, including military ones.”

Amano said the IAEA hoped to probe 12 sites in Iran for possible nuclear energy work.

He said it could take years “to give the credible assurance that all activities in Iran have a peaceful purpose” given Iran’s longtime secrecy.

“This will be the most extensive safeguard operation of the IAEA,” Amano said.

“We need to prepare well, we need to plan well. It is a huge operation.”

Concerns over Iran’s transparency have threatened to undermine the proposed nuclear deal ahead of its June 30 deadline.

The French ambassador to the U.S., Gérard Araud, argued on Tuesday that the talks might not meet the deadline, with a wide range of details still undecided.

“It’s very likely that we won’t have an agreement before the end of June, or even after June,” he said during an address in Washington.

President Obama, though, is pushing for a deal despite concern on Capitol Hill and has said he is personally invested in its success.

“This deal will have my name on it, nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure it delivers on its promise,” he said at Adas Israel, one of Washington's largest and most prominent synagogues, in a speech May 22.

Obama first announced a draft accord with Iran on April 2.

It would reduce economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for greater restrictions on its nuclear energy program.