'Report reinforces concerns over Iran'

Sarkozy says new US intelligence assessment should not diminish pressure for new sanctions.

sarkozy speaks 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
sarkozy speaks 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said a new US intelligence report on Iran's nuclear program reinforces international concerns and should not diminish pressure for new sanctions. Sarkozy's office said early Thursday that he had spoken Wednesday night with US President George W. Bush about the report, which reversed earlier American statements and said Iran stopped its nuclear weapons development in 2003 because of international pressure. The report also contained warnings about Iran's continued nuclear activity, however, and said that it could have a nuclear bomb by 2010-2015. Sarkozy said that if confirmed, the findings mean "international concerns since 2002 about the intentions of nuclear activities in Iran would be further reinforced," his office said in a statement. "The demands of the international community therefore are pertinent: Iran should cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency and suspend its enrichment activities," the statement said. "Iran's refusal to conform justifies a new UN resolution reinforcing sanctions," it said. France under Sarkozy has taken a harder line on Iran, and has joined the US push for a third UN Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran for its refusal to comply with demands it halt uranium enrichment. Iran insists the activity is aimed at producing energy, but it can also be used for a weapons program. Sarkozy's statement comes as a boost to the Bush administration as it scrambles to hold together a global alliance of suspicion against Iran. The US intelligence report, released Monday, was a surprising shift after years of insistence by Washington that Iran was building a nuclear bomb. The administration is worried that the new assessment drains the urgency from international efforts to roll back Iran's nuclear program.