Iran’s nuclear pursuits threat to Europe: Sarkozy

March 21st, 2008 - 11:24 pm ICT by admin  

Cherbourg (France), March 21 (DPA) French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Friday that the country’s nuclear arsenal was “strictly defensive,” and warned that Iran’s nuclear pursuits were a threat to European security. Speaking in the northern port of Cherbourg at the presentation of France’s fourth new-generation nuclear submarine, Sarkozy said, “Our nuclear arsenal is strictly defensive and will be used only in self-defence as defined by the Charter of the United Nations.”

He went on to say, “All those who threaten our vital interests expose themselves to a harsh response,” and warned that the aggressor country’s “military, political and economic centres” would be targeted.

In his first major speech on defence and national security since taking office 10 months ago, Sarkozy distanced himself from his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, who on a similar occasion had threatened to use France’s nuclear arsenal against any country supporting terrorist attacks against France.

Significantly, Sarkozy singled out Iran as a threat, noting that Teheran “is increasing the range of its missiles while there are serious suspicions over its nuclear programme. European security is at stake”.

The French president also called on all countries who have not done so, and specifically the US and China, to ratify the nuclear test ban treaty, and said he would propose the immediate start of negotiations on a treaty to ban short- and medium-range ground-to-ground missiles.

The submarine that Sarkozy introduced Friday, The Terrible, will enter service in 2010 and will be equipped with 16 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) with a range of 8,000 km, 2,000 km farther than the range of current French ICBMs.

Sarkozy also pledged that France would reduce its airborne nuclear arsenal by one-third, bringing the number of its nuclear missiles to below 300.

“None of our nuclear arms are aimed at anyone,” he said.

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