French president warns Iran it could be bombed if it does not curb nuclear ambitions

Publish date: August 27, 2007

Written by: Charles Digges

NEW YORK - In his first major foreign policy speech as president of France, Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday that Iran could face a military attack if it did not live up to its international demands to curb its continued enrichment of uranium.

The biggest challenge to the world was the avoidance of conflict between Islam and the West, President Sarkozy told the annual gathering of French ambassadors. Iran was the crossroads of the Middle East’s troubles and its nuclear aims “are without doubt the most serious crisis that weighs today on the international scene.” he said.

Sarkozy stressed that an attack on Iran would be “catastrophic.” He did not say that France would participate in military action against Iran or even tacitly support such an approach.

But the mere fact that he raised the spectre of the use of force is likely to be perceived by Iran as a warning of the consequences of its continuing course of action and by the Bush Administration as acceptance of its line that no option, including the use of force, can be excluded.

Sarkozy in the loop of American thought

As the most pro-American French president in decades, Sarkozy’s words should be heeded, said diplomats interview by Bellona Web.

Sarkozy came to the United States last month to meet with President George Bush in what was widely regarded as an extension of an olive branch after years of former French President Jacques Chirac’s unsparing criticism of US foreign policy – and Bush personally.

Sarkozy praised the current diplomatic initiative by the world’s powers that threatens even tougher sanctions mandated by the United Nations if Iran does not stop enriching uranium for possible use in a nuclear weapon, but holds out the possibility of incentives if Iran complies.

This two-pronged approach, he said, "is the only one that can enable us to avoid being faced with an alternative that I call catastrophic: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."

War on Iran a parting gift from Bush?

Washington has made no secret of its desire to visit force on Iran for its continued recalcitrance in responding to international demands that it cease enriching uranium.

The rhetoric has even escalated to the point where certain US policy circles – among them presidential candidates not wishing to appear soft after eight years of Bush’s bomber diplomacy – are advocating that a nuclear strike on the Islamic Republic not be ruled out.

In the final months of the Bush presidency, the White House is not shy about suggesting an attack on Iran and leaving a legacy of three wars in progress.

Israel, which has developed nuclear weapons capabilities, has also mused warlike in the face of ever-escalating international tensions over Iraq.

‘Diplomatic blockbuster’

Although Sarkozy’s aides said that French policy in the Middle East had not changed, one foreign policy expert was stunned by the blunt, if brief remark.

"This came out of the blue," said François Heisbourg, special adviser to the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris and author of a forthcoming book on Iran’s nuclear programme.

"To actually say that if diplomacy fails the choice will be to accept a nuclear Iran or bomb Iran, this is a diplomatic blockbuster."

Avoiding the blackmail of terror with a nuclear gift

Sarkozy is apparently working to position himself as a peace broker between the West and the Middle East. Having only Monday spoken out in favor of helping Libya and other Middle Eastern nations achieve nuclear energy capabilities, his world-view apparently centres on offering what he called “the technology of the future” to poor Arab nations to quell their hatred of the West.

He has repeatedly urged the that the West trust the Arab world with nuclear power as his country forges forward with plans to supply Libya and the United Arab Emirates with nuclear reactors.

But like Russia’s support of Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear ambitions, Sarkozy’s cautionary statements Monday seem to forget that his own country and it’s technological assistance may end producing yet another nuclear target in the crosshairs of a trigger-happy US Administration.