AFP: The French government on Wednesday described Iran’s claim to have enriched uranium on its own as a “step in the wrong direction”. PARIS, April 12, 2006 (AFP) – The French government on Wednesday described Iran’s claim to have enriched uranium on its own as a “step in the wrong direction”.
“We are speaking from the perspective of a diplomatic settlement to this affair. We call on Iran to respect its obligations and comply with the demands of the IAEA (UN atomic watchdog) and the UN Security Council,” said government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope.
“From that viewpoint, these recent declarations are rather a step in the wrong direction.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy also voiced his concern.
“The announcement by the Iranian authorities of the activation of 164 centrifuges is worrying,” Douste-Blazy said in a statement.
“If this announcement were confirmed it would go directly against the repeated demands made by the IAEA and the United Nations Security Council.”
The minister said France was awaiting the conclusions of a mission to Iran by the head of the Internatonal Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, who leaves for Tehran Wednesday.
“Once again, I firmly urge Iran to suspend its dangerous activities in order to re-establish a relationship of trust with the international community,” Douste-Blazy added.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Tuesday that his country had successfully completed low-level enrichment of uranium for use as nuclear fuel.
As a permament member of the UN Security Council, France has has been working with fellow members Britain, China, Russia and the United States to convince Tehran to freeze its enrichment program.
The United States and its allies in Europe have long suspected that Iran is using its nuclear energy program as cover to build its own nuclear weapons, an accusation Tehran continues to deny.