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France: Lifting of Some Iran Sanctions 'in December'

Foreign Minister Fabius says Khamenei's 'rabid dog' comment needs to be seen 'in context.'
By AFP and Arutz Sheva staff
First Publish: 11/25/2013, 2:16 PM

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius
Israel news photo: Flash 90

France said Monday some EU sanctions on Iran could be lifted in December as a nuclear deal reached over the weekend moves forward despite Israeli concern and fury.

Speaking on Europe 1 radio, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said EU foreign ministers would gather together in "a few weeks" to discuss lifting some sanctions as part of the deal – a move he said could take place "in December."

He also sought to reassure Israel about the agreement with Iran, whose supreme leader last week described the Jewish state as a "rabid dog" that was "doomed to collapse."

Fabius said: "You have to understand the context. Iranian authorities sometimes say things that are provocations, including last week.

"We will work so that the security of all the countries in the region, including Israel, be better assured."

Asked about the risk of Israeli strikes on Iran, Fabius responded he thought such as move was unlikely "because no one would understand it" at this point in time.

Fabius told French radio on Monday that "Iran is committed to giving up the prospect of nuclear weapons. It's perfectly clear".

However, he insisted that the temporary deal could be reversed if its terms were not adhered to: "As long as some things remained to be settled, nothing is settled," he said.

European Union foreign ministers would meet "in a few weeks" to put forward a proposal partially to lift some sanctions on Iran, which the 28-member bloc would then have to approve. The limited lifting of sanctions would take place "in December", he added.

Tehran has a long history of belligerent statements towards the Jewish state, and Israel – widely assumed to be the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear power – has repeatedly warned that a nuclear Iran would pose an existential threat, refusing to rule out strikes on Iran's atomic infrastructure.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has warned the deal will convince Tehran it has a free hand to achieve a breakout nuclear capability and tip the balance of power in the Middle East.

But the so-called P5+1 world powers that negotiated the accord with Iran – the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – say it is a key first step that wards off the threat of military escalation in the volatile Middle East. nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief.

The six-month interim deal agreed in Geneva prompted a fall in oil prices on markets on Monday.

But Israel's prime minister has warned the agreement is a "historic mistake".

US President Barack Obama phoned Netanyahu to discuss the deal on Sunday. He told the Israeli leader he understood Israel "has good reason to be skeptical about Iran's intentions" and promised to consult its ally closely, the White House said.