France rejects nuclear watchdog claims on Iran

29th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

29 October 2007, ABU DHABI (AFP) - French Defence Minister Herve Morin on Monday dismissed comments by the head of the UN atomic watchdog that there was no evidence Iran is building nuclear weapons, saying Paris has evidence to the contrary.

29 October 2007

ABU DHABI (AFP) - French Defence Minister Herve Morin on Monday dismissed comments by the head of the UN atomic watchdog that there was no evidence Iran is building nuclear weapons, saying Paris has evidence to the contrary.

"Our information, matching those of other countries, gives us the opposite feeling," Morin told a news conference in Abu Dhabi at the end of a short visit to the United Arab Emirates.

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN atomic watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that he had no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding "fuel to the fire" with their bellicose rhetoric.

"I have not received any information that there is a concrete active nuclear weapons programme going on right now," said ElBaradei.

"Even if Iran were to be working on a nuclear weapon... they are at least a few years from having such a weapon," he said, citing assessments by US officials themselves.

"If ElBaradei is right, then there is no reason for Iran to refuse to authorise IAEA inspection" of its installations, Morin said, wondering "what was hindering such inspection" if Iran's nuclear programme was strictly for civilian purposes.

"What we hope for is that Iran opens its doors" to IAEA's inspectors, he added.

Morin dismissed claims that the standoff between Iran and the international community over Tehran's nuclear programme would lead to war, however.

"The prospect of a war is a prospect which does not exist for France," he said, adding that he hoped pressure from the international community will lead to the Iranian regime suspending uranium enrichment.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner last month raised a few eyebrows when he publically warned of the risk of war over the Iran nuclear impasse.

"The international pressure has been fruitful with North Korea," Morin said, adding that Paris hopes that such pressure "will have the same effect" on Iran.

Under six-nation talks, North Korea has agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons programmes in return for a broad package of economic and diplomatic incentives.

The IAEA's deputy director general Olli Heinonen arrived in Tehran on Monday for three days of discussions with Iranian nuclear officials.

Heinonen will be discussing Iran's use of uranium-enriching P1 centrifuges and its research into the more sophisticated P2 versions as part of an agreement between Tehran and the nuclear watchdog.

AFP

Subject: French news

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