Press TV has conducted an interview with Jeff Steinberg, Executive Intelligence Review, from Leesburg, about the issue of the special relationship between France, Israel and Saudi Arabia that sabotaged Iranian nuclear talks at the last minute while all other parties including the United States were aligned towards a deal.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: How much influence does Israel have over France with the latest statements from Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu?
Steinberg: I think there’s two factors impacting on France’s behavior. They were the saboteurs at the last minute of last week’s talks in Geneva.
You have the Israel factor; and of course President [Francois] Hollande has arrived in Israel today for further talks and negotiations with Netanyahu. But there is a second factor as well, which is that the French are looking to strike some major deals with Saudi Arabia and with the countries of the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council.
Just before French Foreign Minister [Laurent] Fabius came to Geneva and threw a monkey wrench into what was really pretty much a final agreement between all of the other players negotiated primarily by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iranian Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad] Zarif.
The French have very strong interests in major arms deals in the Persian Gulf region as well as various kinds of economic deals with Israel. And a top official of the French Defense Ministry was in Riyadh just prior to Mr. Fabius’ arrival in Geneva.
So you’ve got an ironic combination of Israel and Saudi Arabia both for their own separate but converging reasons not wanting to see this P5+1 deal go ahead with Iran and so they’re doing everything they can to sabotage [sic] it from happening.
I don’t think they’re going to succeed, but it certainly reveals that there are some strange political alliances afoot in the world right now.
Press TV: With this trend in place and the disunity among the members of the P5+1, how close is the P5+1 to reaching a deal on Iran?
Steinberg: Well, I think despite the French intervention I think things were very close to a deal….
Remember the talks in Geneva ended in Sunday, but then the very next day there was a significant breakthrough in negotiations between Iran and the IAEA where a roadmap forward was sign and this was hailed by Mr. [Yukiya] Amano, the head of the IAEA, as a major breakthrough in cooperation.
So, I think things are still very much aligned to reach an agreement and with the United States, Russia and China all committed to the idea that we’re close to a deal, we should persevere and reach an agreement that benefits everybody, I still remain cautiously optimistic that the talks next week that begin the 19th or 20th [of November] can be where we see a signed document come out as an interim agreement.
Then the hard work begins on reaching a final agreement on all of the difficult issues still on the table.