Iran says French foreign minister stoking crisis with talk of war
French FM said world must 'prepare for worst' regarding Iran; chief UN nuclear inspector slams statement.
Iran on Monday accused French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of stoking a crisis after he said France must prepare for the possibility of war over Tehran's disputed nuclear program.
The official IRNA news agency quoted Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini as saying Kouchner's remarks were not in line with European Union policies.
"Using crisis-making words is against France's high historical and cultural position and is against France's civilization," he said in a statement.
An earlier IRNA story quoted the spokesman as using the term "provocative words" in his statement, but in a later update the agency changed this to "crisis-making words".
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Sunday that the world must "must prepare for the worst" - including the possibility of war - in light of the Iranian nuclear crisis.
"It seems the French foreign minister has forgotten the EU's policies," Hosseini was quoted as saying.
The chief UN nuclear inspector criticized talk of attacking Iran as hype Monday, invoking the war in Iraq and saying such options should only be considered as a last resort and only if authorized by the UN Security Council.
"I would not talk about any use of force," said Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, in an indirect response to French warnings that the world had to be prepared for the possibility of war in the event that Iran obtains atomic weapons.
"We have to prepare for the worst, and the worst, sir, is war," Kouchner said in an interview on LCI television and RTL radio.
Kouchner's comments follow a similarly hawkish statement by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who said last month in his first major foreign policy speech since taking office that a diplomatic push by the world's powers was the only alternative to "an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."
France has said repeatedly it wants the United Nations Security Council to pass tougher sanctions against Iran over its failure to dispel fears that it is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons.
Saying only the UN Security Council could authorize the use of force, ElBaradei urged the world to remember Iraq before considering any similar action against Tehran.
"There are rules on how to use force, and I would hope that everybody would have gotten the lesson after the Iraq situation, where 70,000 innocent civilians have lost their lives on the suspicion that a country has nuclear weapons," ElBaradei told reporters.
He was alluding to a key U.S. argument for invading Iraq in 2003, that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear arms. Four years later, no such arsenals have been found.
ElBaradei, speaking outside a 144-nation meeting of his agency, urged both sides to back away from confrontation, in comments addressed both to Iran and the U.S.-led group of nations pressing for new U.N. sanctions on Tehran for its refusal to end uranium enrichment.