Iran: France worried by 'dangerous' situation
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday that talks with Iran on its nuclear programme were on the point of breakdown and warned of a "dangerous situation" in the Middle East.
PARIS - Kouchner said that if Iran continued to refuse to respond to a UN-brokered offer to oversee its nuclear enrichment programme then the six world powers leading negotiations would be forced to abandon talks with Tehran.
"The situation is dangerous, in a dangerous Middle East," he told reporters.
"It's a bad idea to provoke the Israelis with the potential, putative, in any case unproven existence of nuclear bomb construction," he said, implying that he feared Israel might take unilateral action against Tehran.
Last month, France, Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States opened a political dialogue with Iran at talks in Geneva, and last week the UN International Atomic Energy Agency offered Iran a deal on nuclear enrichment.
Tehran has yet to formally respond to the offer -- under which it would send its stockpile of uranium abroad to be refined for later use in Iran's medical research reactor -- leading to consternation in Western capitals.
"If the Iranians do not respond to the 5+1 group there will be an effective breakdown in these talks, which got off to a good start in Geneva," Kouchner said, when asked about the Iranian position.
"Unfortunately the Iranian government has not responded, neither to the demand on uranium enrichment from Vienna, nor to the idea of a new session of talks in Geneva. If they don't respond, what should we do? Wait?
"Yes, we are waiting, but not until the end of the world," he warned.
The French minister was also pessimistic about the situation on the ground in Tehran, after another day of major clashes between Iranian opposition protesters and the Islamic republic's security forces.
"I am worried. All of this is not a good omen, a government that represses at home and refuses dialogue outside," he said.
"We don't really know the sitiuation in Tehran. We know the demonstrators were very numerous, a big crowd in the middle of Tehran. We don't know if some of them were hurt or died ... but it was a very, very important movement."