PARIS - France is "very worried" about the potential militarization of Iran's nuclear program, but opposes any strike against the Islamic Republic because it could cause irreparable damage, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Tuesday.

Juppe voiced concern about speculation that Israel is preparing a strike on Iranian nuclear sites ahead of the release of an International Atomic Energy Agency report on Tehran's nuclear activity.

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If the IAEA report, due out this week, indicates Iran is building atomic weapons capabilities, then France would firmly back further UN sanctions, he said, but would do all it can to stop military action.

Four previous rounds of sanctions have been imposed on Iran over its nuclear program. But Russia and China, two veto-wielding UN Security Council, members have made clear any new sanctions would be an extremely tough sell.

"We are very worried about Iran stepping out of line. It would seriously destabilize the region," Juppe told RTL radio.

"France's position is firm: if we need to reinforce sanctions, we are ready," he said.

"I think we have to do everything we can to avoid the irreparable damage that military action would cause."

The IAEA report is widely expected to strengthen suspicions that Tehran is seeking to develop the capability to make atomic bombs, countering its claims that its nuclear enrichment program is purely for civilian purposes.

Western nations are likely to react by calling for further sanctions against the Islamic state, but speculation has been rising that Israel is preparing a preemptive strike on Iranian nuclear sites.

Russia and Iran warned the West against military intervention on Monday, saying an attack would lead to civilian casualties and create new threats to global security.

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