Tehran Rejects Sarkozy's Accusation of Seeking Nuclear Bomb

Foreign Ministry says French President 'looking for a pretext to put pressure on the Iranian nation.'

Iran insisted Saturday that its nuclear program was peaceful, rejecting remarks by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Tehran was pursuing a nuclear bomb, Iranian state television network IRIB reported.

"The nature of Iran's nuclear programs are peaceful, and all activities are transparent and in constant cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, referring to the United Nations nuclear watchdog.

Iran drill Dec. 30, 2011 (AFP)

On Friday, Sarkozy accused Iran of pursuing a "senseless race for a nuclear bomb." Mehmanparast accused Sarkozy of "looking for a pretext to put pressure on the Iranian nation."

"It seems that the French president is following a path which is contrary to peace and stability in the Gulf region and Middle East but this path will not lead anywhere," Mehmaparast said.

"Iran is, however, not after political quarrels (with France) but serious negotiations," the spokesman added, referring to Iran's readiness to resume nuclear talks with six world powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

Mehmanparast said a planned oil embargo by the European Union was a "totally wrong course" and would not solve the nuclear dispute.

On Friday, Sarkozy warned against any military intervention against Iran over its nuclear program, saying a strike on Iran would "trigger war and chaos in the Middle East."

At his annual New Year's address to diplomats in Paris, Sarkozy warned "a military intervention would not solve the problem (of Iran's nuclear program) but would trigger war and chaos in the Middle East and maybe the world."

European Union foreign ministers are likely to agree on extra sanctions, including an oil embargo and a freeze on the assets of Iran's central bank at a meeting on Monday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.

Iran has reacted by threatening to block the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway at the mouth of the Gulf, through which about 20 per cent of the world's daily oil trade is shipped. Last month, Iran conducted military drills in the Strait.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said this week any decision on an Israeli attack was "very far off".