Paris : The French presidency has said that the Iranian nuclear issue “is not closed” and France has a series of “powerful clues” that Iran is indeed developing a military component in its nuclear programme.
Speaking at a press briefing Thursday, presidential spokesman David Martinon said that Iran maintains it is developing a peaceful nuclear programme but “we do not believe this.”
“For us, the affair is not closed,” the spokesman for President Nicolas Sarkozy said in reaction to Iranian claims that the nuclear issue “is behind us.”
“We know that the Iranian programme has military aims,” Martinon affirmed. “We have a bunch of powerful clues” on this, he maintained.
He also said that the development of Iran’s military activities was likely taking place in the plant at Natanz, which he said “to his knowledge” had not been inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog.
He again affirmed that Iran’s claims its programme was “peaceful” cannot be substantiated and that for France “it is not peaceful.”
The the press briefing, Martinon denied any knowledge of an impending military operation against Iran and he said he was unaware of claims in the French press that Russia had warned Iran an attack was imminent between the end of the holy month of Ramadan and the beginning of 2008.
The French weekly “Le Canard Enchaine” reported that Russia had warned Iran about such an attack and also promised to deliver a variety of weapons to Tehran, including two types of modern anti-aircraft missiles, as well as fast, small naval vessels and anti-ship missiles.
The French newspaper also alleged that the attack against Iran would be led by Israeli aircraft followed by US strikes.
Diplomatic sources here told KUNA some time ago that the US was running out of patience on the Iranian nuclear issue and that if Washington decided to act, France would certainly “go with the Americans.”
France has consistently said in official statements that it wanted dialogue and a diplomatic resolution to the Iranian impasse, but earlier this month French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on public television that “we must prepare for the worst” with Iran, indicating that this was “war.”
Kouchner later backtracked and said that his remarks had been misinterpreted and that he favoured negotiations to end the stalemate and that war was the worst outcome and would be “catastrophic.”
Sarkozy, for his part, has taken a tough line on Iran and said the alternatives were “allow Iran the bomb, or bomb Iran,” but he distanced himself from his foreign minister’s remarks on “war.”
At the same time, France is pushing for stronger sanctions against Iran, both in the United Nations Security Council and, in parallel, by the European Union.
France is also seeking to discourage French companies working in Iran from seeking new contracts there.