World News

France calls on Iran to open nuclear plants for scrutiny

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Iran should open its nuclear installations to international scrutiny to clear suspicions about its nuclear ambitions, French Defence Minister Herve Morin said on Sunday.

France's Minister of Defence Herve Morin waits to speak during a plenary session at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore June 1, 2008. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash

“We support calls that Iran demonstrates through total opening of its installations that Iran is not conducting nuclear program with military purposes and goals,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a security conference in Singapore.

Iran said on Saturday it would not give up its right to enrich uranium, only days before major powers submit an upgraded package of incentives to try to coax Tehran into halting the work

Iran has agreed to a visit by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana to submit the package of incentives, in exchange for a full suspension of uranium enrichment.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the United States, France, Britain, China and Russia -- and Germany, known as the P5+1, offered a package to Iran in 2006 that also required Iran to halt enrichment.

Tehran rejected those proposals and the latest package is an enhanced version.

Morin said Iran’s ballistic missiles program raises suspicion about its nuclear program.

“You don’t develop a ballistic missile to carry conventional weapons. That makes no sense.”

But he said France defends the right of every nation, including Iran, to have access to civil nuclear technology which was key to economic development and fighting global warming.

He added that he was not worried about the significant rise in China’s military spending and that he does not see any change in relations with the United States after a new administration takes over later this year.

“We want European defence and we want to participate in the modernization of the Atlantic alliance and we think this goes far beyond the framework of a single administration.”

Reporting by Ovais Subhani; Editing by Jan Dahinten