Strike on Iran would destabilize region: France
PARIS (Reuters) - Any military strike against Iran in the dispute over its nuclear program would risk destabilizing the region, French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said in an interview released on Friday.
"For France, a military intervention is not the solution," he said in comments to be published on Saturday in the London-based Arabic newspaper Al Hayat.
"I add that a military strike against Iran would have unforeseeable consequences, which would be deeply destabilizing for the whole region."
Vice President Dick Cheney has said all options are on the table after Iran refused to heed a U.N. deadline for halting uranium enrichment, a process that can produce nuclear fuel for power plants or bombs.
An Iranian deputy foreign minister responded by saying Iran was prepared even for war.
Villepin said Tehran had to choose dialogue and return to the negotiating table.
"If Iran makes the gesture of suspending its enrichment activities, the (U.N. Security) Council will be able to suspend the sanctions in return," he said, referring to measures passed by the Council in December.
The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, seeking to pressure Iran to suspend enrichment, are now discussing new, stiffer sanctions.
Washington and leading European nations say they suspect Iran has a covert atomic weapons program. Tehran says it is only seeking nuclear power for peaceful purposes and that it is entitled to pursue enrichment to that end.
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