France to back U.S. complaint against IAEA chief

Other News Materials 23 May 2007 18:13 (UTC +04:00)

( RIA Novosti ) - France's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Paris will support Washington's formal complaint against the head of the UN nuclear watchdog for his recent statement easing the pressure on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

"We share most of the concerns expressed by our American partners," Jean-Baptiste Mattei, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, told a news conference in the French capital. "Our permanent representative in Vienna [where the IAEA's headquarters is based] will join the American initiative."

Secretary General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei publicly admitted on the weekend that it was too late to force Tehran to fold up its uranium enrichment plans as demanded by the United Nations Security Council, and argued instead for inspection measures to prevent a further expansion of the Iranian nuclear program.

Following his remarks the United States, which has consistently pressed for harsh sanctions against the Islamic Republic over fears it will build a nuclear bomb, said it would lodge a complaint against ElBaradei, citing concerns that his comments could undermine UN Security Council efforts.

The IAEA is expected to report to the UN Security Council later in the day on whether Iran has complied with a 60-day deadline to stop uranium enrichment, to avoid new sanctions.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously on March 24 to impose broader sanctions against the Tehran for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, which the country resumed in January 2006 for what it insists is purely a civilian nuclear power generating program.

" France continues to support the process started by the UN Security Council, including the demands that Tehran stop all work on uranium enrichment and [further] sanctions against Iran if it fails to comply," the French diplomat said.

France, an established nuclear power, produces around 80% of its electricity from nuclear energy.