Wikileaks: Kouchner warns 'prepare for war' with Iran

Sarkozy, then-French FM say the choice is "between an Iranian bomb and a bombing of Iran;" France pressed EU to impose sanctions.

December 9, 2010 12:48
1 minute read.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner

311_bernard kouchner. (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

French then-foreign minister Bernard Kouchner warned that there could be a war against Iran, according to a US diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks this week.

The cable, dated September 18, 2007, explains that "three weeks after [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy publicly warned about the 'catastrophic choice between an Iranian bomb and a bombing of Iran'...Kouchner publicly observed that given Iran's behavior 'we must prepare for the worst, in other words, war,' and called for EU sanctions against Teheran."

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In the cable, the US ambassador to France, Craig Stapleton wrote that Kouchner's use of the word "war" has "left some of his handlers fretting," and that "he and others in the French government repeatedly stress that pressing ahead with ongoing diplomatic efforts [including sanctions] must be exhausted before any potentially 'catastrophic' resort to force."

According to the cable, Kouchner planned to explain France's hard line to his Russian counterparts and to urge the EU to impose sanctions. Kouchner's ministry also attempted to contact Iran directly and split from the P5+1, in a move that the US called "naive."

Kouchner also sought to discuss "a senior-level US/French channel that might include the UK to discuss possible US military action" against Iran.

In addition, Kouchner saw "preserv[ing] Lebanon's sovereignty and limit[ing] Syrian and Iranian influence" as a priority.

The cable was written shortly after Kouchner visited Israel, and Stapleton assessed that Kouchner would press for the US to make more "efforts at achieving progress on the Israeli/Palestinian negotiations and probe for a potential French role" in peace talks.

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