Thursday, May 04, 2006

French PM: Military Action Against Iran 'Not the Solution'

Yahoo News:
Military action against Iran over its nuclear programme "is not the solution", French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin told reporters. "We cannot solve the problems of this complex region only with force," he told a media conference on Thursday.

But Villepin added that the report last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency showing that Iran had violated a UN order to halt uranium enrichment required a "firm" response by the international community. READ MORE

"Our aim is to guarantee the exclusively pacific character of the Iranian nuclear programme," he said.

Military intervention, though, was not the answer, he said, drawing on the the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq as an example.

"We know that not only would it not solve anything, but that sometimes worsens, further, the situation. We saw that in a clear way with Iraq."

Villepin said: "There is no magic wand by way of a military shortcut that will help us solve the Iranian problem. It doesn't seem to me necessarily, today, something that should happen."

Instead, the prime minister said, the UN Security Council should send a "sufficiently credible, sufficiently strong, sufficiently united" message to Iran to get it to comply with its orders.

"We need to find a path that lets us control the situation on the ground and lets us punish if there is a risk of proliferation, without going as far as the military option."

France and Britain on Wednesday circulated a draft UN resolution that would oblige Iran to freeze uranium enrichment. The text invokes Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which can authorize economic sanctions or even as a last resort the use of force in cases of threats to international peace and security.

But a meeting of top foreign policy officials from the five veto-wielding Security Council members plus Germany broke up in Paris on Tuesday without agreement on a common position after Russia and China balked at taking such a hard line.

Further negotiations were taking place in New York ahead of a Security Council foreign ministers' meeting set for next Monday.

The United States, France and Britain fear Iran is trying to build a nuclear arsenal under cover of its nuclear energy programme, though Tehran denies this.

The Western countries want to obtain leeway to impose sanctions if Iran continues to defy the international community.

The US ambassador to the UN has even said that Washington is prepared to impose sanctions without UN authorisation, and several US media reports have speculated that US airstrikes on Iranian nuclear targets were in the offing.