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.
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
• George Bachiashvili, CEO of the Georgian Co-Investment Fund; Mamuka Bakhtadze, CEO of the Georgian Railway; and Giorgi Pertaia, head of Georgian National Investment Agency. They discuss current events in the former Soviet republic at a forum at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
• Dr. Nguyen Tran Hien, director of Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, and Dr. Vandine Or, director of Cambodia’s Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Health. They discuss health issues in the Mekong Delta in a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
• Health Minister Daniel Bahr of Germany, who addresses the Friedrich Naumann Foundation.
• Habila Adamu, a survivor of violence by the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, who testifies before the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, global health, global human rights and international organizations at a 1 p.m. hearing in Room 2200 of the Rayburn House Office Building.
• Raymond Cohen of Israel’s Hebrew University, Jan Jires of the Czech Defense Ministry, Antoine Vion of France’s Aix-Marseille University, Israeli TV news anchorman David Witzthum and Lanxin Xiang of the Transatlantic Academy in Geneva. They discuss French-German relations at a forum sponsored by the American Institute for Contemporary Germany Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
• Embassy Row is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. James Morrison can be reached at email@example.com or @EmbassyRow.