Monday, October 29, 2007
At a press conference in Abu Dhabi, French Defense Minister Hervé Morin directly contradicted IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei's assertion that he's found no evidence to suggest Iran's nuclear program has military aims:
Our intelligence, corroborated by that of other countries, gives us the opposite impression... If Baradei is right, there is no reason for Iran not to allow the IAEA to carry out its inspections... (Translated from the French.)
Now it's true that generally speaking, France has got solid intelligence throughout the Arab world. So maybe they've uncovered some incriminating evidence of a hidden military component to the Iranian nuclear program. But it's hard to believe that Sarkozy knows something that Chirac didn't, so the sudden shift in tone seems hard to explain.
Which leads us to the "other countries" who -- I think it's obvious -- are most likely Israel and the US. And if that's who the French are comparing notes with, then it's not surprising that they've suddenly given this dossier a greater urgency than the other EU negotiating partners.
Morin went on to make clear [note: English language article] that France is opposed to war with Iran, and reiterated French support for stiffer sanctions, even though they would harm French economic interests in Iran. But the newfound stridency in tone coming out of Paris is going to take some getting used to.