PARIS – France is worried about the latest violence in Iran as well as Tehran's failure to reply to U.S.-backed proposals to export most of its enriched uranium for processing into fuel for a nuclear research reactor, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Wednesday.
Kouchner appeared impatient about Iran's reticence with regard to proposals to ease concerns over its nuclear program and firmly stated that Israel and the international community would never agree to allow Iran to have nuclear weapons.
"I don't think one should provoke the Israelis with the potential existence, putative, or at least unproved manufacture of a nuclear bomb," Kouchner said.
However, Kouchner ruled out sanctions at the present time as a possible means to gain leverage against Iran.
"For the moment, the situation is blocked, which I deplore but we won't have sanctions right now," Kouchner told reporters Wednesday evening. "It is not question of sanctions, it's a question of talking," Kouchner added. "Maybe sanctions will come later. ... It's not a question of them now."
Iran's failure to reply to the proposals hinted at divisions within the government, Kouchner said. However, he said that the five Security Council nations plus Germany which have been talking with Iran about its nuclear program would not be willing to wait forever.
"They are not answering us. So what are we supposed to do. To wait? Yes, we are waiting but not till the end of the world," Kouchner said.
The United States and other major powers are concerned that Iran may be enriching uranium in order to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranians maintain their program is for research purposes and to produce energy.
The latest proposal from the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, calls for part of Iran's declared enriched uranium to be sent to Russia for further enrichment and then to France to be processed into fuel that would be then sent back to Iran for use in the Tehran Research Reactor.
Iran's failure to respond is "dangerous," Kouchner said.
He said that political talks with Iran in Geneva had been a sign of progress, but he did not appear optimistic about another round.
"I am worried because the situation remains tense," he said. "And at the same time the replies have not come ... which is a bad sign for a new meeting in Geneva," Kouchner said, adding that he found Tehran's silence "incomprehensible" and ultimately that failure to reply would mark a rupture in the talks.
He was firm that Iran should never have a nuclear bomb.
"If they want to develop an atomic bomb, a nuclear weapon, we are not in agreement," Kouchner said. "Not at all and this is not, of course, along the line of the treaty they signed already, the Non-Proliferation Treaty."