- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2013

France has made a scheduled congressional hearing on Iran this week more interesting than promised.

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius early Sunday scuttled a deal pushed by the U.S. and other Western nations to get Iran to freeze its uranium enrichment in exchange for easing some crippling economic sanctions.

Critics, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had been warning that the deal would do nothing to stop Iran’s suspected program to build a nuclear bomb. He repeatedly said “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

Mr. Fabius on Saturday first expressed displeasure with the deal, telling France-Inter Radio that he did not want France to be part of a “con game.”

In Washington, Sen. John McCain praised Mr. Fabius.

France had the courage to prevent a bad nuclear agreement with Iran. Vive la France!” the Arizona Republican said Sunday on Twitter.

The exiled Iranian resistance also cheered.

France should be lauded for showing backbone to object to the ‘sucker’s‘ deal,” said Ali M. Safavi of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which revealed two of Iran’s secret nuclear sites in 2002.

Sen. Robert Menendez, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, was shocked at the potential deal.

“My concern here is that we seem to want the deal almost more than the Iranians,” the New Jersey Democrat said on ABC’s “This Week.”

France’s stand comes as Rep. Edward R. Royce, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, is preparing to turn a diplomatic spotlight on Iran at a 10 a.m. Wednesday hearing in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

The California Republican already was upset with the Iran talks.

“Instead of toughening sanctions to get meaningful and lasting concessions, the Obama administration looks to be settling for interim and reversible steps [by Iran],” Mr. Royce said Friday as he announced his committee hearing. “A partial freeze on enrichment is not a freeze.”

The hearing was scheduled to coincide with the 100th day in office of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani.

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