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US, France Say Iran Can Have Nuclear Program, Not Bomb

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, and French Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius give a press conference following talks at the Quai d'Orsay in Paris Wednesday Nov. 5, 2014.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says he and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, agree that Iran has a right to a peaceful nuclear program but “not a track to a bomb.”

Kerry and Fabius met in Paris where they discussed ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran and other issues, ahead of Kerry’s trilateral meeting in Oman on Iran’s nuclear status.

Kerry says he and Fabius believe that it would be “pretty easy” for a country to prove to the world that its nuclear plan is peaceful.

The secretary of state said the U.S. and France share a common goal as they take part in negotiations to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis before a November 24 deadline.

“We are hand-in-hand linked in this effort and we will work extremely close together in the next weeks to try to find a successful path," Kerry said.

On Sunday, Kerry, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, and EU representative Catherine Ashton will try to make headway on Iran’s nuclear status during talks in Oman.

Iran insists on its right to enrich uranium. Western powers have voiced concern that Iran wants to produce nuclear weapons.

Kerry says a unified P5 + 1 grouping - the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany - has presented Iran with “creative ideas” to help achieve its objectives.

“Now we will see if Iran is able to match the public words that they are prepared to prove to the world that they have a peaceful program, to match those words with the tough and courageous decisions that need to be made by all of us," Kerry said. "The time is now to make those decisions.”

President Barack Obama says the United States and its P5 +1 allies have handed Iran a framework for a nuclear agreement, but says it will be weeks before anyone knows if there will be a deal.

Obama said during a White House news conference Wednesday the deal would let Iran meet its peaceful energy needs.

Former U.S. ambassador to Bahrain Adam Ereli says Iran has been engaging in what he calls a “shell game” of stalling and misleading the international community.

“What are they trying to hide or what are they trying to disguise? They’re trying to disguise a commitment to a nuclear program that they’ve not given up and that they’re not going to give up," Ereli said.

Brookings Institution Middle East analyst Riccardo Alcaro says Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani may have difficulties “selling” a final nuclear deal to his domestic audience, if it appears Tehran has made concessions to the West.

But, he says there are several reasons why an agreement would be in Iran’s best interests.

“It would give Iran the chance to be reintegrated into the international community," Alcaro said. "It would give a boost to its economy which has been severely damaged by the sanctions.”

He says it would also help Rouhani’s government in terms of its international reputation and credibility.