PARIS - President Nicolas Sarkozy denied on Tuesday an allegation by the former head of French nuclear group Areva that he had sought to sell a nuclear reactor to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi until mid-2010.
"There was never any question of selling a reactor to Mr. Gaddafi," Sarkozy told France Inter radio, a week after Anne Lauvergeon, Areva's chief executive until 2011, made the claim in an interview on the website of L'Express last Tuesday.
Lauvergeon, known as "Atomic Anne", was a top aide to late Socialist President Francois Mitterrand and has been tipped as a possible minister in a future Socialist government under Francois Hollande.
Her allegation has been read as a political salvo coming as the conservative Sarkozy battles in vain to narrow Hollande's double-digit lead for a May 6 presidential runoff that will follow a first-round vote on Sunday.
"Allow me to tell you that if there is one head of state in the world who has not associated with Mr. Gaddafi and who is responsible for his departure and his fate then that is me," Sarkozy told France Inter.