Parisو, 18 Sept. (IPS) Iran reacted on Monday with certain reserve to the latest statements of the French Foreign Affairs minister Bernard Kouchner, warning that the world must be prepared for a possible war with Tehran.
While the press -- on order from the authorities -- ignored Mr. Kouchner’s sortie, the strongest condemnation came from Mr. Ala’eddin Broujerdi, the Head of the Majles Security and Foreign Affairs committee, telling the official Iranian news Agency IRNA: “If France wants to adopt an illogical, irrational policy towards Iran, the Iranian Majles would call for strong measures”.
Mr. Sarkozi said "the world is facing “two catastrophes: (the Iranian atomic) bomb or bombing (Iran)
On Sunday 16 September, the “French doctor”, Mr. Kouchner’s nickname from the time he was with the Paris-based Doctors Without Borders” told the RTL Radio and LCI television stations: “We must prepared for the worst”, and when asked “what is the worst?”, he immediately answered: “War, sir, war”.
While stressing and repeating that negotiations with Iran must continue unabated over Tehran’s controversial nuclear activities, he nevertheless added that it was “unacceptable that Islamic Republic of Iran get nuclear weapon. We shall not let it getting that bomb”, he said, adding that France had no plan to enter war with Iran.
His comments immediately became a bombshell in the world’s diplomatic circle, especially after he revealed that European Union’s discussion to draw its own sanctions and measures against Iran separate from those adopted by the United Nations Security Council was proposed by “our German friends”.
This was the second time in as many months that Paris has taken the lead in the community of nations opposing Iranian nuclear programmes, that Washington and Tel Aviv insist is aimed at building a nuclear weapon to be dropped on the Jewish State.
Iran forcefully rejects the accusations; insist that its nuclear activities are for civilian purposes, above all producing electricity.
In August, the new French President Nicholas Sarkozy told a conference of France ambassadors and diplomats abroad that the world is facing “two catastrophes: (the Iranian atomic) bomb or bombing (Iran)”. The statement made waves in the diplomatic community and was rejected by many of France’s partners in Europe.
Speaking at the International Atomic energy Agency’s General Conference in Vienna, Mr. Qolamreza Aqazadeh, the Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation warned the West to not continue with its “arrogant confrontation attitude towards Iran”, in Tehran, the official spokesman for the foreign Affairs Ministry reminded Mr. Kouchner that in its last meeting, the European Union Foreign Affairs ministers had dropped the case of Iran’s nuclear activities from its talks.
“Mr. Kouchner is swimming against the tide”, observed Mr. Mohammad Ali Hoseyni, the spokesman.
To Kouchner’s “advise” to French firms to stop dealing with Iran, Mr. Broujerdi told IRNA: “France must present apology to the Iranian people, for if this is its new policy, there is no reason we continue having billions of trade with France”.
However, the immediate reaction to the last of Paris’s outbursts about Iran had come from IRNA, which accused Mr. Sarkozy “the new tenants of the Elysee”, of having adopted a confrontation line. “At the international level, the new government of France has possibly preferred more tension than peace as it has now stepped on the road of creating more tensions by adopting extremist stands”, IRNA said.
“The new occupants of the Ellyse (sic) are no longer following the path of their ancestors as they are trying to be a copy of the White House”, IRNA’s commentary said, adding:
“Since President Nicolas Sarkozy took office, He has been trying to take an American skin by adopting an even tougher policy than that of the US for dealing with the international developments ….
The new French leaders are trying to exceed even their elder American brothers
“The occupants of the Ellyse (sic) have become translators of the White House policies in Europe and have adopted a tone that is even harder, even more inflammatory and more illogical than that of Washington. The new French leaders are trying to exceed even their elder American brothers while their European partners are talking about moderation and favorably are welcoming the historic agreement between Iran and the IAEA.
“The French people will never forget the present time when a person with a non-European approach has moved into the Ellyse (sic).
“By imitating the White House, France is damaging the good and enviable position it has in the Middle East”, the Agency stressed in its comment, entitled:” A Non European In Europe”.
In fact Sarkozy has broken with Gaullist tradition by striking a more pro-American tone and Kouchner was one of only a handful of French politicians who supported the invasion of Iraq. The toughening stance on Iran has been interpreted as a further alignment of the French position with Washington's view.
But by Monday Kouchner was playing down his comment, saying that France remained committed to a peaceful solution. "The worst situation would be war," he said, "and to avoid the worst, the French position is very clear: negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. And work with our European friends on credible sanctions."
On Monday, en route to Moscow for a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Tuesday, his first since taking office, Mr. Kouchner, a senior member of the French Socialist Party, said he believed a new UN resolution on Iran was unlikely.
Kouchner rejected such a reading of the situation, arguing that France was steering a course between the "leniency" of the current sanctions regime and the view held by factions in the U.S. administration that tough sanctions should be accompanied by a policy of isolating Iran.
"You never win by not talking to people," Kouchner said on the plane to Moscow. He regretted that "the Americans only want to talk to Iran about Iraq" and not the nuclear program.
But he also warned of complacency. "We have to envisage that this enrichment does not lead to the construction of a nuclear reactor," Kouchner said. "The role of Iran is particularly worrying in the powder keg that is the Middle East".
According to some Iranian analyst, the reason Tehran has adopted a soft attitude towards the harsh policies of France of Mr. Sarkozi is that they think what Mr. Kouchner says is part of a coordinate Western “psychological warfare”.
“Mr. Kouchner’s statements show that the West is not going to giving diplomacy an unlimited time to solve the Iranian nuclear crisis. Therefore, the more it last, the closer come the other alternative: war”, wrote Mr. Ahmad Zeydabadi, a well known Iranian journalist in Tehran, for the Persian service of the BBC’s website.
“Even, as in the words of Mr. Kouchner, attacking Iran is very far to be considered, and we are not there, yet, the other signification of his statements might be that the clock for the Iranian nuclear activities is set for the Wes and with each second that pass, the situation get more dangerous”, he concluded. ENDS FRANCE IRAN 18907