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. French defense minister says Iran still pursing nuclear arms
WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (AFP) Feb 01, 2008
French Defense Minister Herve Morin cast doubt on reports that Iran had halted its suspected nuclear weapons drive, speaking Thursday on a visit to Washington.

"Coordinated information from a number of intelligence services leads us to believe that Iran has not given up its wish to pursue its (nuclear) program," and is "continuing to develop" it, Morin told reporters.

The US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), a consensus finding of all 16 US spy agencies, released last month, said that Tehran shelved its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

It also noted however that Tehran has refused to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be a key step towards a nuclear arsenal.

Morin said France wanted the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear watchdog, to "continue carrying out all the necessary investigations" into Iran's nuclear activities.

Iran has insisted these are aimed at generating power for civilian purposes.

Morin was wrapping up a 36-hour visit to Washington where he met with his US counterpart Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. He gave no details of their talks, describing them as "an exchange of information."

The United Nations Security Council on Monday began mulling a new proposal by the United States, France and four other nations, for fresh sanctions against Iran, which is accused of not cooperating on the nuclear issue.

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