French presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday that he would not join up with the United States if it decides to carry out a military action against Iran.
Sarkozy, the French interior minister and leading conservative candidate in the April-May elections, is seen as the most pro-American of France's presidential hopefuls.
He said he approved U.N. sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program "and has seen that they are working."
"The municipal elections were a failure for the Iranian president," Sarkozy told RMC radio. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suffered a setback in December's municipal elections.
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said the United States has no intention of attacking Iran. But Vice President Dick Cheney has warned that "all options" are on the table if Iran continues to defy U.N.-led efforts to keep Tehran from making nuclear weapons. Iran insists it is only seeking nuclear energy, not arms.
Asked if France would support military action in Iran if he is elected, Sarkozy responded, "No."
"When you see what's happening in Iraq ..." he said, trailing off. France was a leading opponent of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. Sarkozy said U.S. hints that it had not ruled out military action in Iran were "useless posturing."
"In international relations, pragmatism is better than posturing," said Sarkozy.
Sarkozy's main likely competitor in the presidential election is Socialist lawmaker Segolene Royal. Both candidates to replace President Jacques Chirac have said that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons. But they differ in their tactics, reports AP.
Royal has said that Tehran should not even have access to civilian nuclear power. That stance has elicited criticism since under the terms of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran is allowed to have a civilian nuclear program.
Sarkozy agreed that, under the treaty, "Iran and all other countries" have a right to nuclear power. But he said he was "absolutely, totally and completely opposed to nuclear weapons" for Iran.
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