Friday

23rd Jul 2021

France, Russia warn against military strike on Iran

  • Persian carvings. Iran has threatened massive retaliation against Israel in the event of air strikes (Photo: velaia)

France and Russia have in separate statements warned that a US or Israeli strike against Iran's alleged nuclear weapons facilities could destabilise the Middle East.

Speaking to Europe 1 radio on Saturday (5 November), French foreign minister Alain Juppe said the UN and EU should intensify sanctions instead of taking the military option.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We will continue on this path [sanctions] because a military intervention could create a situation which completely destabilises the whole region and beyond. We have to do everything we can to avoid irreparable harm," he explained.

Juppe added that France would help defend Israel if a regional conflict breaks out, however: "I hope it doesn't come to that ... [But] if Israel is attacked, France would stand by its side."

For his part, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov told Rossia 24 TV on Monday that a military strike would be "a grave error, with unforseeable consequences."

The warnings come two days before the UN's Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, is due to circulate an internal report on Iran's nuclear activities.

The IAEA paper will not be made public until 17 November at the earliest. But leaks indicate it will give justification for hawks in Israel and the US to press for air strikes.

The Washington Post on Monday reported the IAEA paper will say: Iran already has sufficient information to design and produce a uranium-based nuclear warhead; it is conducting weapons tests at a military base in Parchin, near Tehran; and its know-how comes from rogue Russian nuclear scientist Vyacheslav Danilenko and Pakistani expert Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Israeli President Shimon Peres increased tensions on Friday in remarks to Channel Two News in Jerusalem.

Asked if the military option is now "closer" than the diplomatic one, he answered: "I believe so, I estimate that intelligence services of all these countries are looking at the ticking clock, warning leaders that there is not much time left."

A senior French defence ministry official told French daily Le Figaro on condition of anonymity he does not believe in Israel's threats: "Every now and again over the past five or six years, the Western tone mounts ... But a Western attack on Iran doesn't seem realistic to me."

An contact in the European External Action Service told EUobserver that Israel and the US will not consult with EU structures if they go ahead. "The first that we will hear about it is when we see bombs falling on CNN," the source said.

US and France point to upcoming action on Iran

US President Barack Obama and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy have indicated that an upcoming UN report on Iran's alleged nuclear weapons programme could trigger new international action.

Iran suicide bombers pose bigger threat than missiles, expert says

Iran's current capabilities do not justify the development of an extensive missile shield covering all Europe and the US, since Tehran poses more of a threat in the Gulf region and to Israel rather than Paris or Washington, a missile defence expert has said.

Iranian oil, gold and banks on EU hitlist

An oil embargo from 1 July, a partial ban on the central bank and a prohibition on trade in gold are among the latest EU ideas on how to stop Iran building nuclear bombs.

News in Brief

  1. Macron changes phone after Pegasus spyware revelations
  2. Italy to impose 'vaccinated-only' entry on indoor entertainment
  3. EU 'will not renegotiate' Irish protocol
  4. Brussels migrants end hunger strike
  5. Elderly EU nationals in UK-status limbo after missed deadline
  6. WHO: 11bn doses needed to reach global vaccination target
  7. EU to share 200m Covid vaccine doses by end of 2021
  8. Spain ends outdoor mask-wearing despite surge

Opinion

Why Russia politics threaten European security

Russia could expand hostile operations, such as poisonings, including beyond its borders, if it feels an "existential" threat and there is no European pushback.

Analysis

Ten years on from Tahrir: EU's massive missed opportunity

Investing in the Arab world, in a smart way, is also investing in the European Union's future itself. Let's hope that the disasters of the last decade help to shape the neighbourhood policy of the next 10 years.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNineteen demands by Nordic young people to save biodiversity
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable public procurement is an effective way to achieve global goals
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council enters into formal relations with European Parliament
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen more active in violent extremist circles than first assumed
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance

Latest News

  1. Far left and right MEPs less critical of China and Russia
  2. Why is offshore wind the 'Cinderella' of EU climate policy?
  3. Open letter from 30 embassies ahead of Budapest Pride
  4. Orbán counters EU by calling referendum on anti-LGBTI law
  5. Why aren't EU's CSDP missions working?
  6. Romania most keen to join eurozone
  7. Slovenia risks court over EU anti-graft office
  8. Sweden's gang and gun violence sets politicians bickering

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us