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Chirac Warns Iran

In strong language, French President Jacques Chirac has called on Iran to resume its freeze on uranium conversion and enrichment activities, and to accept a European proposal offering incentives to turn that freeze into a permanent ban.

Enriched uranium can be used either to produce electricity or atomic bombs. The United States and other nations believe that the Iranian government may be secretly developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian energy program.

"I call on the Iranian authorities to choose the path of cooperation and confidence by carefully examining this offer and resuming their commitment to suspend activities related to the production of fissile materials," said French President Chirac. "We call on Iran's spirit of responsibility to restore cooperation and confidence, failing which the [United Nations] Security Council will have no choice but to take up the issue."

In August, Iran restarted work at its uranium conversion facility in Isfahan, breaching an agreement it made in 2004 with France, Germany and Britain, known as the E-U-3. Iran also rejected a European proposal offering economic and other incentives if Iran agreed permanently to stop enriching uranium. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that President Chirac "was echoing in public what the E-U-3 has told Iran in private":

"They’ve also made public statements about it, and that is that they [Iranian government authorities] cannot be allowed to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear program, which is what they're trying to do. We support the efforts of the E-U-3 to resolve these issues with Iran. We encourage Iran to re-engage with the E-U-3 and not only re-engage but take the deal that has been offered them. It's a good deal."

Mr. McCormack says that there is "a long list" of unresolved questions that the International Atomic Energy Agency, or I-A-E-A, has raised with Iran about its nuclear program. The I-A-E-A's report is due to be released on September 3rd. "We look forward to seeing that report," said State Department spokesman McCormack.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.