Sarkozy demands new sanctions for Iran
21 September 2007, PARIS (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy directly accused Iran of seeking a nuclear bomb and threw his weight behind "stronger sanctions" which are to be discussed Friday by the major powers.
21 September 2007
PARIS (AFP) - French President Nicolas Sarkozy directly accused Iran of seeking a nuclear bomb and threw his weight behind "stronger sanctions" which are to be discussed Friday by the major powers.
Sarkozy said that France does not want a war with Iran but charged in a prime time television interview late Thursday that "Iran is trying to obtain an atomic bomb."
"That is unacceptable and I tell the French people it is unacceptable."
US President George W. Bush also said Thursday he hoped the Islamic Republic would bow to mounting global pressure and warned he was "not going to tolerate" a nuclear-armed Iran, which denies it is trying to develop an atomic weapon.
Tensions have been heightened this week by comments by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner who warned that a war with Iran was possible.
Sarkozy distanced himself from Kouchner's statement and put the emphasis on the need for diplomatic punishment of Iran.
Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States are to meet in Washington on Friday to discuss a third package of tighter UN sanctions against Iran if it does not suspend its uranium enrichment.
"How do we convince (Iran) to renounce this project? Just as the international community convinced North Korea and Libya to renounce theirs. Through discussion, through dialogue, through sanctions," Sarkozy said.
"If sanctions are not enough, I want stronger sanctions," Sarkozy said, while repeating that Iran had a right to civilian nuclear technology.
The Iranian nuclear question "is an extremely difficult affair, but France does not want a war," Sarkozy said, referring to Kouchner's earlier comments.
Kouchner had said "we have to prepare for the worst, and the worst is war." He has since insisted the statement was misunderstood.
"I would not have used the word war, and he himself has explained his comments," Sarkozy said.
France has taken an increasingly strong line in the dispute over Iran's uranium enrichment programme, which the United States and its allies fear is an effort to build an atomic bomb.
Alongside of the Washington meeting of the five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany, Kouchner is to discuss Iran at the White House on Friday.
After weeks of escalating US rhetoric on Iran, Bush insisted that "the objective, of course, is to solve this peacefully."
"I am hopeful that we can convince the Iranian regime to give up any ambitions it has in developing a weapons programme, and do so peacefully. That ought to be the objective of any diplomacy," he said.
"It's imperative that we continue to work in a multilateral fashion to send that message. And one place to do so is at the United Nations," Bush said.
The Security Council has adopted three resolutions against Iran. Two include sanctions because of Iran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which it says is purely for civilian energy purposes.
France also wants the European Union to take its own sanctions against Iran if the UN Security Council does not pass new measures. Russia and China are reluctant to take strong action against Iran.
French presidential spokesman David Martinon said the measures could be "recommendations" to European companies asking them "at the very least not to bid for new markets in Iran, and for financial institutions to scale back their operations, to lower their investments."
"We would like to obtain that from all EU countries, and we are not alone in wanting to do so," Martinon said.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is expected in New York next week to attend the UN General Assembly. The visit has sparked controversy in the United States.
The Iranian leader, whom Washington considers an ally to Islamic militants and Iraqi insurgents, is to address the General Assembly on Tuesday.
He wanted to tour Ground Zero -- the site of the September 11, 2001 attacks -- but was denied permission.
Subject: French news