Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sarkozy shoots down Iran nuke plans

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy said on Tuesday that Iran had "made itself into an outlaw nation" and must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

"Iran does not have the right to try and acquire a nuclear weapon," Sarkozy said as he addressed a gathering sponsored by the French-American Foundation in Washington DC.

A prospective candidate in France's presidential election next spring, Sarkozy described the prospect of Iran possessing nuclear weapons as "terrifying". READ MORE

He said the problem must be dealt with through diplomacy, but sounding much like US President George W Bush, he declared that "we must leave all options open."

Sarkozy followed his speech with a lunch with US Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.

Later he met US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley and members of Congress.

The session with Hadley at the White House may result in a drop-by get-acquainted visit with Bush, officials said.

Sarkozy said that he opposed expanding the European Union - saying that the idea of incorporating Turkey and its 65 million Muslims - should be put on hold.

He also said that other eastern European economies should be incorporated into a kind of "Russian EU" rather than into the west's economy. (AP)