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In the face of mounting concern last week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy continued his increasingly vocal opposition to Iran’s continued efforts to enrich uranium—which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insists are solely for civilian power generation.
In his first major foreign policy speech since taking office just months ago, Mr. Sarkozy urged major powers, including members of the United Nations Security Council, to take tangible steps to halt Iran’s programs through increased diplomatic pressure of varying measures.
With a surprisingly blunt assessment of a nuclear Iran, Mr. Sarkozy called for implementing a new initiative that included incrementally severe sanctions in order to address what he called the “worst crisis” facing the world today. The French president said, “This initiative is the only one that can enable us to escape an alternative that I say is catastrophic: the Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran.”
Mr. Sarkozy added, “I hope in the next few months, we will advance together towards a reinforcement of Europe as a military power.”
Furthermore, he committed to building a stronger French military, detailing immediate plans to accomplish this.
Mr. Sarkozy has been an outspoken supporter of U.S. President George W. Bush and has taken a more “pro-American” stance than did his predecessor. Yet, France’s president also made it clear that the European Union must be able to deal with the United States on equal terms.
“Europe must progressively affirm itself,” he said, “as a first-rank player for peace and security…to avoid the risks of an antagonistic multi-polar world.”
Just days after Mr. Sarkozy’s comments, President Ahmadinejad revealed that Iran has 3,000 centrifuges operating, and every week a new set is installed. He brushed off the French president as being inexperienced, and asserted that neither the United States nor France would “dare” to initiate an attack against Iran.
Experts have stated that it will take approximately one year to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb if 3,000 centrifuges are involved. Considering that Iran has been enriching uranium since 2006, the world is left to wonder when powerful diplomatic rhetoric will cease, replaced with the imminent and very real threat of conflict.