Iran Slams Sarkozy over Missile Warning

A01175373.jpgTEHRAN (FNA)- Iran has lashed out at French President Nicolas Sarkozy for suggesting France needed a nuclear deterrent to counter the growing missile threat posed by states like the Islamic Republic.

“Making such comments has no value,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini said.

“The Islamic Republic has been always a centre of stability and peace-seeking in the region and its foreign policy is completely in line with international criteria.”

Announcing a reduction in France’s nuclear arsenal, Sarkozy the day before said his country still needed atomic weapons as “life-insurance” against new threats from states such as Iran.

“[Iran is] increasing the range of its missiles while serious suspicions weigh on its nuclear program,” he alleged.

France has toughened its line against Iran since Sarkozy’s election as President, with French officials repeatedly warning about the security dangers of the Iranian atomic program.

Iran insists its nuclear program is solely aimed at producing atomic energy but Western powers claim Tehran could use the sensitive process of uranium enrichment to make a nuclear bomb. West has never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate its allegations against Iran.

Relations between Paris and Tehran have been strained in recent months due to France’s strong support for US warnings over Iranian ambitions.

Hosseini said it was false to conclude that Iran was a threat.

“The Islamic Republic intends to upgrade its capabilities,” he said.

“But drawing a parallel between these progresses and possible threats is inappropriate and invalid.”

The US is at loggerheads with Iran over Tehran’s independent and home-grown nuclear technology. Washington has laid much pressure on Iran to make it give up the most sensitive and advanced part of the technology, which is uranium enrichment, a process used for producing nuclear fuel for power plants.

Washington’s push for additional UN penalties contradicted the recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies that endorsed the civilian nature of Iran’s programs. Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head – one in November and the other one in February – which praised Iran’s truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions on Iran seemed to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran’s cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran’s nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Tehran says it never worked on atomic weapons and wants to enrich uranium merely for civilian purposes, including generation of electricity, a claim substantiated by the NIE and IAEA reports.

Iran has insisted it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhovin as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Not only many Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but also many other world nations have called the UN Security Council pressure unjustified, especially in the wake of recent IAEA reports saying Iran had increased cooperation with the agency.

US President George W. Bush, who finished a tour of the Middle East last month has called on his Arab allies to unite against Iran.

But hosting officials of the regional nations dismissed Bush’s allegations, describing Tehran as a good friend of their countries.

Bush’s attempt to rally international pressure against Iran has lost steam due to the growing international vigilance, specially following the latest IAEA and US intelligence reports.

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