While the United States routinely accused Iran of trying to make such arms, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy's bold statement appeared to reflect mounting exasperation and a tougher stance than European negotiators had previously maintained in their efforts to persuade Iran to suspend nuclear activities.
"No civilian nuclear program can explain the Iranian nuclear program. It is a clandestine military nuclear program," Douste-Blazy said on France-2 television.
"The international community has sent a very firm message in telling the Iranians to return to reason and suspend all nuclear activity and the enrichment and conversion of uranium, but they aren't listening to us."
In other developments:
France, Britain and Germany have been negotiating with Iran on behalf of the European Union. Europe and the United States fear that Iran is using its nuclear program to build weapons, and the U.N. Security Council will consider Iran's efforts next month.
The council has the power to impose economic and political sanctions. Amid mounting tensions, Iran resumed small-scale uranium enrichment last week.
"Now it's up to the Security Council to say what it will do, what means it will use to stop, to manage, to halt this terrible crisis of nuclear proliferation caused by Iran," Douste-Blazy said.
Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani responded to those comments by saying: "We want civilian nuclear energy, we don't want to have the bomb."
"Bringing the matter to the Security Council would be seen by Tehran as an escalation," Pakistan's UN Ambassador and former President of the UN Security Council Munir Akram said in an interview with CBS News Up to the Minute Contributor Frank Ucciardo. "The adoption of the resolution of the IAEA produced a reaction which I think has moved the whole issue in the negative direction."
Russia, too, applied pressure.