Despite Israel’s legitimate concerns over its national security, signing a nuclear deal with Iran will provide Tel Aviv with more guarantees than if the deal was to fail, former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told RT.
RT: France is widely accused of blocking a breakthrough
during the previous talks - was that the case? Especially bearing
in mind that France's position on Iran has always been more or
less the same.
Dominique de Villepin: That’s not exactly true because I was the one leading negotiations in 2003 and at the time, during Jacques Chirac’s presidency, we got an agreement with the UK, Germany and Iran. It was today’s President Rouhani that was a negotiator. And then under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy the position got a little bit different and tougher. But I believe today what we have to understand, all of us, is that we have a great opportunity.
It’s a great opportunity for the region, a great opportunity for the world community, because of the political change in Iran, because of president Rouhani, because of the stronger position of the moderates and the reformers in this country. So I believe that everything should be done to get a breakthrough, and this week this breakthrough is possible.
There are three main questions that are on the table: the first one is the question of the nuclear plants in Iran; the second one is the right for enrichment of uranium, and it’s a difficult question and it has to be in face of the 1970 signing of the NPT; and the third question is what who we do with the stockpile of the enriched uranium, which today Iran has in a great quantity, approximately 180 kilos of uranium enriched up to 20%. But on these different questions we have technical answers, now we have to look for the wording of the text, and I believe that we are very close with different countries, the 5+1 (5 countries of the Security Council and Germany) and Iran, we are very close to an agreement. The question is how much are we ready to take a risk to sign the agreement, and I think to assess the importance of this agreement, we must understand that it is a process.
Of course we are not going to get a final agreement from scratch
on Wednesday, but we can go into the process of agreement with an
interim agreement and we can progress and have a final agreement
that will be better. So I think it’s a chance and we should take
it. It is in the interests of the region because it will have
strong consequences on the situation in Syria, on the situation
in Lebanon, on the peace process. So this can change completely
the dynamic of the region for good. On the contrary, if we don’t
sign the agreement, if we don’t take all chances to sign this
agreement, we may have strong consequences and we may face a
strike on Iran coming from Israel.
RT: Sure. And of course this is a combined effort of all the participants. Talking about previous talks again, the US has adopted a more positive approach here compared to previous negotiations - what do you make of the idea that France is playing out a good-cop/bad-cop scenario with the US and real decision-makers are still the US and Israel here?
DV: Well, France has a strong legitimacy in this discussion because France for many years has been involved since the start of the negotiations with Iran, French diplomacy knows well Iran and knows well the question of proliferation. Second, France of course has a temptation to take advantage of the withdrawal of the US in the region. France has a very good relationship with Saudi Arabia, with the conservative monarchies of the Gulf and of course has today a strong position with Israel. But this should help France to take the risk of going forward and to finalize an agreement.
We have the technical capacities, we have the technical knowledge, and I believe that Iran today is ready to do a big step forward, so we have really to put pressure in order to sign this agreement, we should not let this opportunity pass because we know that the consequences for the region will be worse than everything, it might be a signal for war in the region, that of course nobody wants.
RT: Many are accusing Paris of siding with Israel. How big of a role does Israel play in all this?
DV: Well of course Israel has a strong concern about its security and of course we are in a position and willing to guarantee the security of Israel. So I believe that Israel of course has legitimate concerns about its security, but I believe signing an agreement with Iran will give to Israel a lot more guarantees than not signing. Today we have technical answers. There’s a willingness of the IAEA, the International Atomic Agency to control the situation in Iran.
So I believe we have done such work in order to answer the legitimate concerns of Israel that we should be able to sign an agreement. Of course there’s a lot of people in Israel that still don’t want to change anything because Iran is the old enemy and Israel wants to keep the situation as it is, but I believe that for everybody, if we want to solve the problem of the region, whether it’s Syria, whether it is the situation in Lebanon, we’ve seen this horrible terrorist attack in Lebanon, whether we want to go forward with the peace process - we need to go forward and we need to reintegrate Iran in the regional community. So of course it is a big change. Of course everything will be different if this agreement is signed. But it is in the common interest of the whole region.