Letters: France’s own nuclear flaws
Re “Stand by France,” Opinion, Nov. 14
France’s feisty objection to elements of the proposed Iran nuclear agreement may have merit, but Eric Edelman and Ray Takeyh are way off base writing that “France has an honorable history” in shielding the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and underlying norms.
France has had a tradition of helping countries with suspect nuclear ambitions. Before the treaty, Paris provided Israel with the Dimona reactor that it knew would be used for weapons development. After the NPT went into force in 1970, France provided Saddam Hussein’s Iraq with the Osirak reactor. When questions arose, France refused to modify Osirak’s weapons-grade fuel. Paris also provided Iraq with equipment for laboratory work on nuclear enrichment.
In the early 1970s, France provided Pakistan with plutonium extraction technology. Only strong U.S. pressure in 1978 forced Paris to abandon the export of a large reprocessing plant, but this did not stop French companies from supplying other equipment that Islamabad used in the weapons program.
An early partner in India’s “peaceful” nuclear program, France also continued to assist New Delhi after it exploded its first nuclear weapon in 1974.
France has a lot of nonproliferation catching up to do if it is to be taken seriously.
The writer served in the State Department’s Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs in the George H.W. Bush administration.
The goal of negotiations with Iran is not merely to halt its march for nuclear weapons; it is to eliminate Iran’s ability to manufacture these weapons completely. The French correctly called the tentative agreement “a sucker’s deal.” We must remember that Iran supports terrorism and therefore cannot be trusted. Everyone agrees that no deal is better than a bad deal. Let’s follow through on that concept.
Keep up the sanctions until Iran dismantles its nuclear weapons programs.
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