France demands Iran cease 'destabilising activities'

29th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

France on Monday voiced sharp concern at news that Iran had test fired two long-range missiles and demanded Tehran immediately stop its "deeply destabilising activities."

"We call on Iran to choose the path of co-operation rather than confrontation, by immediately ceasing these deeply destabilising activities," said the foreign ministry.

Iran on Monday test-fired its two long-range missiles, the Shahab-3 and the Sejil, which it says could hit targets in Israel, as the Revolutionary Guards staged war games for the second consecutive day.

"These tests are a provocation, especially since we have made repeated offers of dialogue," foreign ministry spokeswoman Christine Fages told a press conference.

The ministry issued a statement voicing "sharp concern" at the announcement.

"These missile tests can only heighten the concerns of countries in the region and of the international community, given that Iran is developing a nuclear programme and that the existence of a clandestine enrichment site has just been revealed," it said.

Paris urged Iran to respond "without delay to the demands of the international community to reach a negotiation on the nuclear issue."

The Iranian exercises coincide with heightened tension with the West after the UN nuclear watchdog revealed on Friday that Tehran was building a second uranium enrichment plant.

Western countries suspect Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, which Tehran denies. Iran and world powers meet in Geneva on Thursday to discuss Tehran's disputed atomic programme.

French Prime Minister François Fillon, at the end of a visit to Beirut, told reporters that the disclosure of the new plant amounted to a "serious and revealing development."

France's aim is "to take part in establishing peace in this region through a diplomacy which must be firm ... but at the same time hold out a hand to dialogue," he said.

The French foreign ministry accused Iran of violating its agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by failing to declare the second plant, dismissing an offer from Tehran to open the site to inspections.

"It is for the IAEA, not Iran, to determine the conditions in which it carries out its inspections," warned the ministry spokeswoman.


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