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France Dismisses Iranian Nuclear Counterproposal

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner rejected Iran's latest move on its uranium-enrichment efforts as a diplomatic "pirouette."

In an interview on French radio, Kouchner said it was out of the question the international community would accept an Iranian ultimatum on its nuclear program. He said discussions with the Iranians could continue, but not about Iran's nuclear development.

Iran has rejected the December 31 deadline set by the international community to accept a deal to enrich its uranium overseas. Iran says the uranium would be used for a medical-research reactor. Instead, Tehran on Saturday set a one-month deadline for the West to accept a counterproposal.

Iran claims its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. But Western nations disagree and are now considering tougher sanctions against Tehran.

Meanwhile, the Iranian regime has been cracking down on anti-government protests that erupted after June's disputed presidential election and flared anew last month. Kouchner said the Iranian government was itself divided.

Foreign Minister Kouchner said high-level Shi'ites within the government disagreed with the regime. He condemned the government crackdown against unarmed protesters and said he did not know how the power struggle would pan out.