French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Thursday that Iran's nuclear program is a cover for clandestine military activity, in an unusually direct attack on Tehran for a European diplomat.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator immediately dismissed the charge, insisting that Iran did not "want to have the bomb."
Douste-Blazy's comments were likely to increase pressure on Iran amid the international dispute over its nuclear activities, which Teheran says are purely civilian but which Israeli, European and US leaders fear are aimed at building nuclear weapons.
"No civilian nuclear program can explain the Iranian nuclear program. It is a clandestine military nuclear program," Douste-Blazy said on France-2 television. "The international community has sent a very firm message in telling the Iranians to return to reason and suspend all nuclear activity and the enrichment and conversion of uranium, but they aren't listening to us."
The UN Security Council is to consider Iran's nuclear activities next month. France, Britain and Germany have led European negotiations that have failed to persuade Iran to suspend parts of its nuclear program. Amid mounting tensions, Iran resumed small-scale uranium enrichment last week.