Nicolas Sarkozy said France would be steadfast in isolating Iran until it stands down from its suspected nuclear weapons program.
Iran with a nuclear weapon is “unacceptable,” the French president said Wednesday in a breakfast meeting with Jewish organizational leaders hosted by the American Jewish Committee. Moreover, Sarkozy added he would not play the “double game” others in Europe have played: maintaining a firm political stance against the Islamic Republic’s nuclear ambitions while doing little to isolate Iran economically.
Sarkozy said he would be open to “goodwill gestures” from Iran toward increased transparency on its nuclear program, adding that Arab nations and Iran have a right to a civilian nuclear program.
Sarkozy received the AJC’s Light Unto the Nations award for his outspoken friendship for Israel and commitment to combating anti-Semitism. Sarkozy said France’s commitment to Israel’s security was “unconditional,” although he disagreed at times with Israel’s government. He suggested that he opposed Palestinian demands for a “right of return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel, saying that Palestinians and Israelis deserve to exist as “nation states” and preserve their national identities.
Speaking of anti-Semitism, Sarkozy said he rejected any attempt to explain hatred of the Jews or any racism – such explanations, he said, amount to excuses.
The breakfast launched a busy day for the French president, including meetings with President Bush and top Congress members. Sarkozy’s commitment to confronting Iran and his warmth for Israel have helped pave his welcome in Washington, which had chilly relations with his predecessor, Jacques Chirac.