In quiet contacts, French President Nicolas Sarkozy warns that North Korea is using its crisis with the South to cover up its planned transfer to Iran of nuclear weapons systems parts and extra-fast centrifuges for uranium enrichment that could help Tehran go into bomb production in the first half of 2011, debkafile's intelligence sources report. The French president has asked pro-Western Persian Gulf leaders to try and persuade President Barack Obama to take strong military action against North Korea – not just because of its aggression against the south, but to hold back Pyongyang's nuclear aid to Tehran.
Our sources report urgent secret calls from the Elysée to the New York hospital where Saudi King Abdullah is recovering from surgery, to his foreign minister Prince Saud Al Faisal and intelligence chief Prince Moqrin Bin Abdul Aziz as well as to the Emir of Kuwait, Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah. He asked them to use their influence and lean hard on Washington for urgent action. In Sarkozy's opinion, Iran only agreed to meet the Six-Power representatives on December 6 for talks as a gambit to play for time until the North Korean nuclear supplements are in hand. He told the Gulf rulers that he had been informed by highly credible sources that the items from North Korea would help Iran solve the technical problems plaguing the program and holding up its progress.
Our sources also report a closed briefing session the French president held in Paris a few days ago for high officials in his government in which he enlarged on his warning. He found fault with President Obama's tactic of massing air and naval strength around Iran's shores in recent months to keep the Islamic Republic under military pressure ahead of nuclear talks. Those units, he said, would have been better employed surrounding North Korea in order to block its export of nuclear components to Iran. The sea is Pyongyang's only consignment route to Tehran, Sarkozy explained. If we all work together (US, France, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf emirates), he said, we can still abort it.
debkafile's military sources add that the US-French naval and air deployment opposite Iran numbers two American and one French aircraft carrier, the USS Truman, USS Lincoln and the Charles de Gaulle and their strike forces. Several British and German warships have joined this armada. Sources familiar with the Sarkozy briefing quote him as maintaining that the USS Lincoln should have been sent to the Yellow Sea before the crisis erupted over North Korea's shelling of a South Korean island in the third week of November. He would then have ordered the Charles de Gaulle to join the US carrier at the Korean scene.