June 24, 2015 / 1:20 PM / in 2 years

France voices concerns on Iran talks after Khamenei comments

PARIS (Reuters) - French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said on Wednesday that declarations from Iranian leaders appeared not to favor an international deal on the country’s nuclear program.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius leaves after the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, June 24, 2015. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday ruled out freezing sensitive nuclear work in the country for a long time and said sanctions imposed on it should be lifted as soon it reaches a final deal with major powers, state TV reported.

Major powers - Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States - want Iran to commit to a verifiable halt of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear development work as part of a landmark atomic deal they aim to reach by June 30.

“France wants a deal but wants the deal to be robust, a good deal, but not a bad deal,” he said at a news conference alongside Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

“A certain number of statements do not seem to go in that direction. France reaffirms that it wants a solid accord, but at the same time must stress the firmness of its positions.”

Fabius cited limitations on Iran’s uranium enrichment capacity and research, rigorous verification systems, including for military sites, and restoring sanctions immediately if Tehran reneged on its obligations as key elements of a deal.

France is deemed to have been one of the toughest in pressing for limits to prevent Iran acquiring an atomic bomb capability, although Tehran denies seeking nuclear weapons.

Israel and Gulf Arab states have criticized the emerging agreement as not going far enough to guarantee Tehran will not obtain a nuclear bomb.

Jubeir said he “completely supported” France’s position in the talks.

Reporting by John Irish; Editing by Mark John and Alison Williams

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