Tags: france | negotiate | iran

French Official Scoffs at Idea of Negotiating With Iran

Friday, 10 Oct 2008 12:31 PM

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Barack Obama can talk about negotiating with Iran until he’s blue in the face, but a top French official who has been there and done that contends that any efforts by a future president to open direct talks with Iran would be a waste of time.

“Good luck” is the advice that Therese Delpech would offer to the next U.S. president if he wanted to negotiate with the Tehran regime.

“We’ve been negotiating with the Iranians since 2003, five years,” the nuclear adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Newsmax during a visit to Washington. “We came to the conclusion that they are not interested at all in negotiating, but in buying time for their military (nuclear) program.”

Obama has pledged frequently that, if elected president, he would open direct talks with Tehran “without preconditions,” in an attempt to talk the Iranian regime out of its nuclear weapons program.

But such talks would be a fool’s errand, Delpech said in a scarcely veiled reference to the Democrat.

“If you want a kind of preview of what the Europeans might tell the new American administration on the subject, well at least in Paris what you will hear is the following: They are not interested at all in negotiating,” she said.

The Bush administration sent its top Middle East diplomat to the latest round of talks between the Europeans and Iranians in June, a move that Obama applauded as a change in the right direction.

But Delpech said the presence of assistant secretary of State William Burns changed nothing.

“At no point in the five years of our talks with the Iranians have they ever asked” for the type of concessions Obama and his advisers say they are prepared to offer Tehran, she said.

“They never said, ‘If only we would get security guarantees form the Americans, if only we would get economic investment from the Americans, if only they wouldn’t tell us we are part of the axis of evil’ – you name it. They never made any of those statements, at no point at all,” Delpech said.

The talks in Geneva that Burns attended were just “talks about talks about talks,” she said.

And even then, Ayatollah Khamenei’s representative, National Security Council Director Sayeed Jalali, was unprepared to accept any direct or indirect negotiation with the American side.

Jalali was the ayatollah’s personal representative, “so the linkage is direct,” Delpech said. “So even this, the Iranians are not ready to accept.”

Furthermore, “The presence of the American representative didn’t change anything,” she said.

Iran’s supreme leader just wasn’t interested in talks with the U.S., no matter the extent of the U.S. concessions that Burns — or his successor in a future administration — might lay on the table.

“So if you want to try for another deal, the big deal (with Iran), believing that this will be a new departure and you will succeed where we failed, good luck!” she said.

Pro-Tehran lobbying groups such as the American-Iranian Council (AIC) and the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) have urged the United States to open direct negotiations with Tehran. The State Department recently instructed the Department of Treasury to issue a license to AIC so it could open a liaison office in Tehran.

NIAC also has done work in Tehran using U.S. government grants from the National Endowment for Democracy. Even though the grants were restricted to helping “non-governmental organizations” in Tehran, NIAC’s partner organizations in Tehran were run by an Iranian government official.

NIAC critic Hassan Daioleslam called NIAC’s Tehran partners “false-flag Iranian NGOs that were in fact managed and controlled by Iranian deputy ministers or high level officials, making a mockery of the term ‘non-governmental’.”

French nuclear expert Delpech also expressed surprise that anyone was still talking about the much-disputed National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran that concluded in December 2007 that Iran had shut down its nuclear weapons program in late 2003.

“I thought the NIE was dead,” she told Newsmax. “It was killed by the (International Atomic Energy Agency) itself, which is ironic, because the IAEA is not generally that harsh on Iran.”

She referred to a closed-door session in February in which the agency’s safeguards chief, Olli Heinonen, produced internal Iranian government documents that showed ongoing nuclear weapons work in Iran well after the intelligence estimate said it had been stopped.

FLASHBACK: “New Documents Show Iran Continues Nuclear Work.”

As I reported in Go here now.]

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