Daily Press Briefing

Statements made by
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson

(Paris, April 10, 2007)

[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]


I will read a statement on Iran made by Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy:

‘I deplore the announcements made yesterday which are a bad sign. Once again, I urge Iran to respect the Security Council resolutions that require the suspension of all sensitive nuclear activities. I invite Iran to take the opportunity to open a dialogue with the E3 +3 which was offered to it again in the statement by the Six ministers at the time resolution 1747 was adopted.’

Q - About the extent of the effort that Iran is preparing to make, since Iran has announced that the goal is to install 50,000 centrifuges, not 3,000 as was first thought, at Nantanz.

There are a number of uncertainties in the statements on the Iranian side. There are the Iranian statements and there is the technological reality behind these statements. I’m not in a position, where I stand, to tell you exactly what the situation is. You know that in any case, under SCR 1747, which was adopted on March 24, there’s to be a new IAEA report within 60 days. So we will have a new report from the IAEA in May. It’s at that point that we’ll see what analysis the IAEA makes in its report. Independently of the technological reality on the Iranian side, these statements in themselves are a bad sign, and that’s what the minister said.

Q - What consequences will these Iranian statements have on your diplomatic dialogue with Iran?

The consequences have already been partially drawn by the international community since we had these two resolutions, SCR 1737 which was adopted in December and SCR 1747 which was adopted in March. The international community has already placed Iran squarely before its responsibilities. If in two months the IAEA report confirms that there is no progress on the Iranian side and that, on the contrary, the Iranians are increasingly engaged in enrichment activity, the international community at that point will have to assume the consequences.

Q - But for the time being there’s no question of a new diplomatic meeting?

The messages have been clearly conveyed to Iran. Mr. Solana only recently had a phone conversation with Mr. Larijani. I believe the messages from the international community are perfectly clear and have been repeatedly recalled. So we are staying with this process, which is a process of the United Nations, resolved that Iran should meet its responsibilities.

Q - Everyone is talking about war with Iran. France said it had no reason to doubt the Americans word that they will not attack Iran. Yet we’re seeing reports now—from a French source—that Iran is going to be attacked. It was on the front pages of several Saudi papers today.

I’ve not seen that.

Q - What is France’s position?

As we’ve said all along, we are taking a diplomatic approach, we’re engaged in a diplomatic approach which includes the United States. And as I said, we’ve no reason to question the participation of the Americans in this diplomatic approach or their intentions as these are expressed.

Q - And in the event of recourse to force, would France demand it went through the Security Council?

It’s a very hypothetical question. It has been clearly stated by the president, the prime minister and the foreign minister that we were taking a diplomatic approach which excluded a military option on our side.

Q - And the [aircraft carrier] Charles de Gaulle which is out there?

We’ve already explained. I gather it is in the region, but very largely to take part in operations which are actually support operations in the fight against terrorism, in liaison notably with Afghanistan.

Q - I’d like to go back to the minister’s statement. Can you give us details about the announcements that were made? The minister deplores the announcements made yesterday. What announcements are they?

It’s not my place to recall them for you, but there were a number of announcements made yesterday by the Iranian president and by Mr. Larijani as well, and it’s in reaction to these statements that the minister made his.


Q - But what are the announcements you deplore?

It’s what was said on the Iranian side, especially the announcement that Iran plans to move on to what is described as industrial-scale enrichment. First, no one really knows what industrial-scale enrichment is. No one really knows what the real technological capacity of the Iranian side is. Undoubtedly, there is rhetoric and there is reality. But with respect to the rhetoric, one can only deplore these Iranian announcements which, as I said, are not a good sign, whatever the reality happens to be behind them.

Q - So you’ve not noticed any substantial advance by the Iranians?

We have noted these statements which are troubling and are a bad sign. Simply, what I said is that it is very difficult for us, in a national capacity, to express an opinion about Iran’s technological capacities in this area. It’s an assessment that has to be made first by the IAEA.

Q - Do you think it is time to re-work the NPT? (…)

The NPT exists. Iran is a signatory to the NPT. What we’d like of course is for all the countries that signed the NPT to respect the obligations in it. We also agree on the fact that all countries that have signed the NPT have the benefit of the rights established by the NPT, specifically article 4 with regard to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. No one disputes that Iran has this right. Moreover, we are even ready to help Iran develop its civilian nuclear energy. No one disputes this. It’s just that this entails very great transparency on Iran’s part and that the international community has a guarantee that the nuclear energy is not being diverted for military purposes. We always come back to that. And that is why we’re asking Iran to suspend its enrichment activities.

Q - But Iran has said it could pull out of the NPT. Does that trouble you?

Quite simply, we consider that everyone must respect his obligations. Iran signed the NPT which, I repeat, is not simply a constraint on it but also gives it rights. That’s what has to be clearly seen. Otherwise it would be hard to understand why so many countries have signed the NPT if it conferred on them only obligations and no rights. So there are rights under the NPT, the right to civilian nuclear energy and no one disputes this for Iran. We maintain that Iran must abide by the commitments it accepted and benefit from the right to civilian nuclear energy.


France is pleased that the presidential elections, which were held in East Timor on Sunday, April 9, went smoothly. The high voter turnout of the people of East Timor confirms their attachment to their country’s democratic institutions.


Thierry Breton, Minister for the Economy, Finance and Industry, will head the French delegation to the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund which will be held in Washington on April 14 and 15.

The purpose of these meetings is to hold in-depth exchanges on questions linked to poverty reduction and international economic development. The developing countries’ progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, the commitments of the international community to official development assistance, the international architecture for aid, fragile states, questions as to type of aid, and the World Bank’s action plan for Africa are among the subjects that will be discussed.

The French delegation will brief participants on its initiatives in the area of innovative financing mechanisms for development.

It will present the priorities of our cooperation with the World Bank in the health, education, farm and energy sectors, and with fragile states.


Embassy of France, April 10, 2007