French leader accuses Iran of seeking nukes

first_imgPARIS – French President Nicolas Sarkozy accused Iran directly of seeking nuclear weapons Thursday and suggested tougher sanctions against the Mideast nation. Sarkozy, who has toughened the French position on Iran since taking office in May, called the possibility of an Iranian bomb “unacceptable.” Sarkozy was expected to discuss sanctions with other world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly next week. If current sanctions are not sufficient, Sarkozy said, “I want stronger sanctions,” he said in a televised interview. But he insisted that France does not want to see tensions lead to war. Sarkozy stepped back slightly from comments by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner on Sunday that the world should “prepare for the worst” in Iran, specifically “war.” Amid criticism, Kouchner later softened that, insisting he just wanted to underline the gravity of the Iranian nuclear problem. “I would not have used the word `war,”‘ Sarkozy said Thursday. Kouchner, in a speech in Washington on Thursday, expanded on the recommendation by Sarkozy for tightening sanctions. “An Iran with a military nuclear capability is, for us, an unacceptable prospect,” he said, speaking in English.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The United States and other world powers suspect Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons, while Tehran insists it only wants nuclear technology to produce electricity. Two rounds of U.N. sanctions have failed to end the deadlock. “It’s a very difficult matter, but France does not want war,” Sarkozy said. He said negotiations with Iran were still possible. Sarkozy, known for his frank manner, dispensed with diplomatic niceties when referring to Iran’s nuclear activities. “Iran is trying to acquire a nuclear bomb. I say to the French, `It’s unacceptable,”‘ Sarkozy said. “How can we convince (the Iranians) to renounce this project as the international community has convinced North Korea and Libya? Through discussion, dialogue, sanctions,” he said. last_img