Iran with atomic weapons is unacceptable: Chirac

19th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

CAIRO, April 19, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac, due here Wednesday on a two-day visit, told Egyptian daily Al-Ahram that it was "unacceptable" for Iran to have nuclear weapons, and called for "necessary gestures" from Israel and the Palestinians for "real negotiations" to resume.

CAIRO, April 19, 2006 (AFP) - French President Jacques Chirac, due here Wednesday on a two-day visit, told Egyptian daily Al-Ahram that it was "unacceptable" for Iran to have nuclear weapons, and called for "necessary gestures" from Israel and the Palestinians for "real negotiations" to resume.

The Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be high on the agenda when Chirac meets Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday.

The Iranian leaders "must understand that, for the international community, the prospect of a militarily nuclearized Iran is unacceptable," Chirac said in an interview.

The French president insisted that the door remained open for a resumption of talks as soon as Iran went along with the requests of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council, stressing that "more than ever the choice is in the hands of the Iranian leaders."

Iran, suspected by the West of wanting to acquire the atomic bomb, has refused to suspend its uranium enrichment activities in spite of pressure by the big powers.

The Security Council has asked Iran to suspend those activities by April 28.

Major powers meeting in Moscow on Tuesday discussed the possibility of sanctions against Iran for its suspected nuclear weapons program but reached no agreement, the US State Department said.

Chirac is sticking to the diplomatic option to try and get Tehran to budge while US President George W. Bush has not excluded any option, including military action against Iran.

The French president reaffirmed Iran's "legitimate right" to civil nuclear energy, but on condition that the country give "objective guarantees on the peaceful nature of its program."

"The IAEA found that its nuclear activities had been carried out in an underhand way," he said. "Besides, Iran is pursuing a worrying missile program."

Egypt is calling for a diplomatic solution to the crisis but is also worried by the fact that Israel refuses to sign the nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Experts believe Israel has some 200 nuclear warheads.

Chirac is expected to share Mubarak's "conviction" that the setting up of a zone free from arms of mass destruction would bring progress for peace and stability in the Middle East.

The French leader called on the hardline Hamas-controlled Palestinian government and Israel to "make the necessary gestures" for a resumption of "real" peace negotiations.

"In the immediate future we call on Hamas to understand that the way of violence is pointless and to continue its transition toward political action, continuing to respect the truce and committing to a process of renouncing violence and recognizing Israel," Chirac said.

The interview was carried out before a suicide bombing Monday in Tel Aviv claimed nine lives apart from that of the bomber, the deadliest attack since August 2004. The Palestinian government refused to condemn the attack and said Israel bore responsibility for it.

Chirac continued: "But we also say to the Israelis that they must brush aside the temptation of unilateralism, end targeted killings and the pursuit of settlements."

In other remarks, Chirac defended the cautious reforms carried out by Egypt, including electoral changes, describing them as "fruitful."

He said France had "no hidden agenda concerning Syria", implicitly denying that Paris wanted a regime change in Damascus.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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