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France condemns Iran nuclear move as 'provocation'

By the CNN Wire Staff
The reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran on October 26.
The reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran on October 26.
  • NEW: Tehran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful
  • The French Foreign Ministry says Tuesday's announcement by Iran flouts U.N. resolutions
  • Paris is calling on Tehran to "suspend its sensitive activities"
  • British official said last month Iran is secretly testing missiles

Tehran, Iran (CNN) -- The French Foreign Ministry condemned Tuesday the Iranian government's announcement that it was installing a new generation of centrifuges in its nuclear facilities, describing it as "a new wave of provocation" that flouts United Nations resolutions.

"This is yet another violation of the six Security Council resolutions and the 10 IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Board of Governors resolutions," the ministry said in a statement. "On top of the announcements that it plans to triple the production of uranium enriched to 20%, it clearly confirms the suspicions of the IAEA and the international community regarding the purpose of a program without any credible civilian objective."

The French Foreign Ministry called on Tehran to "suspend its sensitive activities."

The ministry was reacting to the announcement earlier in the day by a spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, who said the country is installing a new generation of centrifuges in its nuclear facilities. The announcement was reported by the state-run IRNA news agency.

The spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, "stressed the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activities, saying that all Iran's nuclear activities were carried out under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency," IRNA said.

Iran has been carrying out covert tests of missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload, in contravention of a U.N. resolution, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said last month.

It has also said it wants to enrich uranium to "levels far greater than is needed for peaceful nuclear energy," Hague said.

Iran's development of missile and nuclear fuel technology has led to U.N. sanctions and accusations from the United States that the clerical regime is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran says it has a right to peaceful nuclear technology, but the IAEA has said it cannot verify whether the intent of Tehran's nuclear program remains peaceful.

Enriched uranium can be used for civilian nuclear purposes, but also to make atomic weapons.

The IAEA raised concerns in February that Iran was not engaging with the agency on claims that it was developing a nuclear payload for its missiles.

The IAEA report discussed possible nuclear activities tied to Iran's military "including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile."

The United States imposed new sanctions on Iran last month, targeting the country's national airline, Iran Air, other companies and international business executives accused of illicitly building up Tehran's military.

Iran has condemned those sanctions in a letter to the United Nations, saying the international body had a responsibility to look out for "nations who are merely endeavoring to attain their legitimate and undeniable rights under international law."

The United Nations passed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran in June 2010, aimed at pressuring it to suspend its nuclear program.

Journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.