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QUESTION - Given the nuclear proliferation threat in general and the Iranian nuclear issue in particular, what must France's response be?
LE PRESIDENT - Experience teaches us that when it comes to nuclear proliferation, the international community must be united and determined, and France must continue to act to keep up the pressure on Iran. Today the prospect of a nuclear-missile-armed Iran is unacceptable. It would pave the way for an arms race in the region and directly threaten Israel and southeast Europe. Tehran has to choose between cooperation with the international community and increased sanctions. Personally, I think there must be no hesitation in strengthening the sanctions regime because I believe sanctions can be effective. Moreover, this is what the Security Council has just decided. In return, if Tehran agrees to cooperate, the international community must guarantee the Iranian authorities that it will honour its commitments, particularly in terms of access to civilian nuclear power.
With regard to civilian nuclear power, cooperation is possible with our partners in the South. Saying this is a way of telling Iran that we are not doomed to confrontation. The energy of the future isn't destined to be the exclusive possession of the most developed countries once a system of safeguards can function effectively. With this in mind, I've suggested setting up, under UN and International Atomic Energy Agency auspices, a veritable world bank for civilian nuclear fuel which would allow emerging countries access to the benefits of atomic energy without the risk of diversion for military purposes. Such an institution would have the advantage of removing all economic and political interest in national uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing programmes.
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