France 'will not tolerate' nuclear proliferation: President Hollande

BEN GURION AIRPORT, Israel (AFP) - France will not accept the proliferation of nuclear arms, President Francois Hollande said on Sunday after arriving in Israel for a visit expected to focus on Iran's controversial nuclear drive.

"France will not tolerate nuclear proliferation," he said in a speech on the red carpet shortly after landing at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.

"As long as we are not certain that Iran has decided to give up on nuclear weapons, we will continue with all our demands and with sanctions."

Israel and Western powers suspect Iran's uranium enrichment programme is part of a covert drive to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, an allegation Teheran vehemently denies.

"When France defends its positions in the discussions under way, it of course takes into account the issues which you have explained but it is also with an awareness of what is at stake for the planet," Mr Hollande added.

"France considers nuclear proliferation to be a menace, a danger, and in Iran particularly a menace to Israel, to the region and clearly a menace to the entire world."

Teheran has been in talks over its disputed nuclear programme with the P5+1 group, which is made up of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus Germany.

Israel is campaigning against a deal emerging from the negotiations, which it says would prematurely ease international sanctions on Teheran, before it makes binding commitments to stop enriching uranium.

Iran and the P5+1 group of countries are due to meet again in Geneva on Wednesday for a fresh round of talks.