France and Iran: the Non-Negotiable Reconciliation

ByRasanah

To complement the French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to Iran to discuss its ballistic missile program on Sunday, Nov. 12th, 2017, Spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry, Agnes Romatet-Espagne announced, yesterday, the French desire to hold talks with Iran on its ballistic missile program away from the nuclear deal and said that these talks were, to be frank, and non-negotiable.
France believes that the crises caused by Iran on both regional and international levels can be divided into several parts: some can be postponed like preserving the nuclear deal and preventing Iran from resuming its nuclear program, while other issues need immediate and decisive actions like the ballistic missile program- especially after Houthi rebels targeted the Saudi capital with an Iranian-made ballistic missile. When Macron announced his invitation for talks on Iran’s ballistic missile program, he faced a wave of resistance from all Iranian officials; Conservatives and Reformers as if they were in a situation to prove their patriotism by preserving Iran’s ballistic missile program. However, the French repetitive invitation and setting of a frame for these talks that took the shape of initiative showed that the French Foreign Ministry would hold on to its plan, knowing that Iran has already declined these talks. In order to achieve this policy, France used French and international leverage.
» Why France is the Initiator?
Over two years after signing the Iran nuclear deal, the French companies succeeded in conducting a number of economic agreements with Iran in the oil, gas, civil aviation, and car manufacturing fields for tens of billions of USD that have made Iran an important partner for France to revive its economy. Nevertheless, With the announcement of the new US strategy on Iran by President Trump, the threats of canceling the nuclear deal, and classifying IRGC as a terrorist organization, France felt that its investments and the generous contracts it had gained were at risk and believed it would have no choice but to abide by the American decisions; otherwise, the French companies would have to pay penalties same as the French giant oil company “Total” when it was fined 400 million USD for violating the US sanctions on Iran in 2013. As a result, France strives to preserve its investments in Iran and avoid going back to the situation before 2015 by warning Iran to stop its ballistic missile program in order to escape imposition of new sanctions- especially on its ballistic missile program that violates the Security Council resolution 2231 that states, “Iran has to stop conducting tests of ballistic missiles able to carry nontraditional warheads.”
» Iranian Rejection and EU Silence
Iran declined the French demands for a number of excuses. It claimed that its ballistic missile program was a purely defensive one and that defense issues were nonnegotiable. In addition, it rejected adding any new terms to the nuclear deal or reducing it. The French initiative was also rejected by Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs. Mogherini considered that this initiative would endanger the nuclear deal signed between the international community and Iran with great difficulty. However, her position showed how close she was to the Iranian regime. This was reflected by the popular photo she took with the Iranian MPs inside the Parliament, the strong relations she has built with Rouhani and Zarif over long years of negotiations on the nuclear deal, and her statement about the future position of the EU on the nuclear deal in case the United States cancels the pact or toughens sanctions on Iran. In fact, the EU is disregarding the torn-out regional conditions caused by Iran by adopting a different position from those of its members and distant from the US position, which might drive the regional countries influenced by the Iranian destabilizing policies and ballistic missiles to take actions that might harm the interests of the EU and its organizations in the region.
The French initiative was also declined by the United States in the form of “no comment,” since it knew that Iran would reject all initiatives on the nuclear deal or even its ballistic missile program unless being exposed to strong and real pressures by the international community.
On the other hand, the Middle East regional powers headed by Kingdom of Saudi Arabia favored giving the French initiative the opportunity to tackle the Iranian policies- knowing that Macron has made his invitation for talks on Iran’s ballistic missiles during his visit to Dubai- to defuse the crisis about to erupt before the US Congress session on Dec. 13th, 2017 to vote on whether to extend the nuclear deal or cancel it after Trump’s decertification of the pact on Oct. 13th, 2017, giving Congress sixty days to decide if Iran is in compliance with the terms of the agreement or not, which might lead the United States to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. These developments might, therefore, make Iran, the United States, and all parties concerned about the nuclear deal rely on the French initiative- rejected by all parties- to defuse the crisis that might fuel the international and regional conditions by the coming of Dec. 13th, 2017.

Rasanah
The Institute Management