Q - The Iran-European Union negotiations on the Iranian nuclear issue has not had, up to now, the expected results. What do you think about this?

François Géré - For those who have not followed the Iranian nuclear issue since the beginning, I would like to say that six months ago we were in an extremely serious situation. But tensions eased as negotiations developed. Today, we still have undeniable difficulties even when we are close to define a very precise position. There is obviously a difficulty which has always been a challenge in this negotiation and it has to do with Iran’s right, as a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to carry out all legitimate civil nuclear activities it wishes based on what is stipulated on the NPT. On the other hand, the United States is looking forward to put an end to all kind of nuclear activities in Iran and it is between these two positions the Europeans are trying to negotiate an acceptable commitment. It is here where we can find the core of the argument of letting Iran continue developing civil nuclear activities and stop the uranium enrichment. That is why the Iranian position is to say: ok, but we would like to have a small-limited uranium enrichment program. However, this has been rejected by the three European countries and a temporary difficulty has arisen but I would not say it is an impasse for I think the situation can still be improved and an agreement reached. Actually, I am among the optimists’ group. I think this is a last minute obstacle for we are very close to reach an accepted position by all interlocutors.

Q - The Paris Agreement stipulated a temporary suspension of Iran’s nuclear activities. So, how come the Europeans demand now the total suspension of Iran’s nuclear programs?

François Géré - The origin of the suspension of the enrichment activities was included in the Paris Agreement. But for Iranians, this was a temporary suspension and for European negotiators it was a sort of first phase of the total suspension. A misunderstanding have always been present or, let’s put this way, there has always been an obstacle on this issue. But our present problem is bigger for the Europeans have recently introduced a new issue that was not included in the Agreement, that is, the conversion of uranium into hexafluoride gas which can be useful for centrifugation. This issue has been blocked because the Europeans have presented a petition to put an end to these activities which are in the previous phase of the nuclear fuel cycle. Obviously, if these activities are terminated, that is, the by-centrifugation production, the enrichment process will be terminated too. As to the Paris agreements, we have a new obstacle nowadays. I thought they were broad in nature and temporary but today we have dealt in greater detail with them and I can see they are difficult for a negotiation process. I think we have gotten to the heart of the matter. Iran’s government has not stopped the negotiations and I think the Europeans’ will is to continue with the negotiation process and, no matter what, to make the United States understand there are ways to negotiate among which we have the commitment between the position of the sovereign State of Iran, a member of the NPT and securing bigger and more rigorous guarantees on its civil nuclear program.

Q - If Iran resumes the enrichment, what would the European reaction be?

François Géré - If we consider the current condition, resuming enrichment would obviously lead to the end of negotiations. This position has been adopted by the three governments but they are doing their best to prevent such a situation. Therefore, if the Iranian government thinks circumstances would force it to make such decision, then we would have to consider the fact that negotiations have failed, at least on the first phase and then we must be ready to start setting the conditions of a second phase which will make the situation more difficult because the United States will exert pressure on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to analyze the Iranian case in the United Nations Security Council.

Q - Wouldn’t the failure of negotiations be consider a failure for the Iranian diplomacy?

François Géré - From the moment in which Iran decide to make an unilateral decision according to which it would focus on resuming the uranium enrichment process without taking into account what has been achieved in the negotiation process, then I would be force to say this is a decision of the Iranian government profoundly regretted by the members of the European Union for this would become a failure for the European management regretted by everybody: the European States and, of course, Iran.

Q - And personally, don’t you think that the access to the civil nuclear technology is a legitimate right of Iran?

François Géré - Yes, of course. We know Iran has a principle and a right it can not avoid and I think that is completely normal and legitimate. Once again, it is not about accepting a Non-Proliferation Treaty with a special category for those countries to which clauses of the NPT will not be finally applied to or applied with very special restrictions. From this point of view, I think the Iranian government position is strong and legitimate. In addition, I believe that based on the fact of having a legitimate civil nuclear program having controls would effectively guarantee the international community enough trust to approve the continuation of such programs based on conditions and limits that, based on what I know, the Iranian government is willing to accept. That is I why I think interrupting negotiations now will be regrettable for I think we could still succeed.