France took a very tough stand on the IAEA report. “It is imperative that the U.N. Security Council takes up the Iranian issue,” said Foreign Minister in Paris on Wednesday. “The IAEA council of governors should explicitly condemn Iran. We have decided to act and France is ready to go much further with others who are willing to do so, in imposing sanctions that will force Iran to comply,” Mr Juppe told Radio France Internationale in an interview.

Strained relations

He said the possibility of Iran possessing nuclear weapons was a serious “threat” to world peace. Relations between France and Iran have been strained for quite a while and the latest incident was the detention by Tehran of a French interpreter whom Iran accused of spying. New French Ambassador to India Francois Richier was then a senior adviser to the French President and according to reports leaked by WikiLeaks was instrumental in paying a handsome ransom for the release of the interpreter Ms Colthilde Reiss. It may be recalled that France gave asylum to Ayatollah Khomeini while he was in exile and that the overthrow of the Shah of Iran was plotted by Khomeini and his followers from French soil.

French researcher Bruno Tertrais said the international community could have nipped the problem in the bud “had it acted earlier”.

“I was really impressed by the wealth of detail furnished by the IAEA. This is the most detailed report yet on the activities of a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. So far pressure exerted on Iran has not yielded results and I note a strange connivance between Egypt and Iran on this question. But we have to be cautious and distinguish between the ongoing debate within the Israeli Cabinet and last week end's declarations by the President Shimon Peres which was intended to exert pressure on the international community.

“I would say however, that while Israel certainly retains the military option against Iran we cannot say that we are on the eve of such an intervention.”

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