World

Hard-line French stance on Iran's nuclear program eclipses US efforts to reach accord

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, second from left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, arrive at a press conference at the end of the Iranian nuclear talks in Geneva, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. The European Union's top diplomat and Iran's foreign minister said nuclear talks between six world powers and Tehran did not seal a deal.  (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool)

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, second from left, and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, center, arrive at a press conference at the end of the Iranian nuclear talks in Geneva, Sunday, Nov. 10, 2013. The European Union's top diplomat and Iran's foreign minister said nuclear talks between six world powers and Tehran did not seal a deal. (AP Photo/Jason Reed, Pool)  (The Associated Press)

When Iran appeared close to a preliminary deal with world powers over its nuclear program, France said: Not so fast.

The surprise French move to block the deal exposed divisions among Western negotiators who'd long been in lockstep on the issue.

Analysts say France was motivated by factors including its tough stand against the spread of nuclear weapons, skepticism about Tehran's trustworthiness and the longstanding French tradition of speaking out on the world stage.

After the Geneva talks ended early Sunday with no deal, diplomats including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that progress was nonetheless made and negotiations will continue Nov. 20.

France in recent years has staked out a hard-line stance on Iran's nuclear program after the failure of European-led talks on the issue in the mid-2000s.