Iran sanctions working, Israel’s Peres tells FRANCE 24

In an interview with FRANCE 24 on Monday, Israeli President Shimon Peres warned against lifting economic sanctions against Iran as the international community prepares for a fresh round of nuclear talks in Geneva next month.

Israeli President Shimon Peres expressed scepticism about a possible diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear issue in an interview with FRANCE 24 on Monday.

Nearly a week after Iranian officials held nuclear talks with representatives of six world powers in Geneva, Peres said he was not optimistic about a deal on the contentious issue.

“I’m not sure because there’s still a distance between the two positions,” said Peres.

While the US and its European allies suspect Iran is working toward a nuclear weapons capability, Tehran insists its nuclear programme is solely intended for peaceful purposes.

The election of moderate Iranian President Hassan Rohani in June has sparked hopes of a diplomatic thaw on Iran’s contentious nuclear programme, but Peres noted that there were still wide differences that needed to be overcome.

The Israeli president’s comments came as US officials hinted at the possibility of easing some of the tough economic pressures on Iran. According to US media reports, the White House has been debating whether to offer Iran the chance to recoup billions of dollars in frozen assets if it scales back its nuclear program. The plan would stop short of lifting sanctions, but could nonetheless provide Iran some relief.

Speaking to FRANCE 24, Peres warned against lifting the sanctions, noting that they resulted in Rohani’s election victory, which in turn led to greater Iranian flexibility on the nuclear issue. 

“There is a change [in the Iranian position]. I think the change occurred because of the economic sanctions. Whether it is sufficient to bring them to a total and final agreement, I don’t know,” said Peres.

US officials described last week’s negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 nations, which include the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, as the most serious and candid to date. The parties have agreed to meet again in Geneva on November 7-8.

Assad ‘doesn’t have power’

On the Syrian crisis, Peres said he no longer believed Syrian President Bashar al Assad was “a leader” and dismissed fears that the Syrian leader was seizing the upper hand in the deadly conflict.

“He doesn’t have power,” said Peres. “Today, there are two or three Syrias. One part is led by the Kurds in the north, another by the rebels. He’s in charge of one part of Syria. What sort of government is it?”

Peres’ comments came as Assad indicated that he might consider running for re-election in 2014. In an interview with a Syrian TV station on Monday, Assad noted that, “Personally, I don’t see any obstacles to being nominated to run in the next presidential elections.”

When asked about the Middle East peace process, re-launched in late July under US auspices, Peres said “we must negotiate in the most serious way” with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas . “This is a serious man. I think he really wants peace. I think that he understands the danger of terror that splits the Palestinians too. I would go and negotiate with him very seriously.”



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