Reuters: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday she was confident world powers would agree on further steps to take against Iran, which has repeatedly defied international calls to suspend its nuclear fuel programme. BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday she was confident world powers would agree on further steps to take against Iran, which has repeatedly defied international calls to suspend its nuclear fuel programme.
Merkel’s comments come a day after China, backed by Russia, balked at the idea of financial sanctions against Iran during talks among six diplomatic powers on a new U.N. Security Council resolution that would penalize Tehran for its nuclear programme.
“I’m optimistic we will succeed in agreeing on the next steps,” Merkel said in a speech at a German-Israeli forum in Berlin.
Merkel reiterated the Western view that Tehran, which the European Union and United States suspect is developing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy programme, needs to freeze its uranium enrichment programme.
If Iran does this, then Germany, the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France will be ready to negotiate on a package of incentives to resolve the standoff with Tehran, she said.
Iran denies allegations it is developing atomic bombs and insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity at atomic power stations.
The Security Council approved a package of limited sanctions in December. That resolution included a Feb. 21 deadline for Iran to suspend enrichment.
Tehran ignored the deadline and the six powers are discussing a tougher package of penalties. But both China and Russia have problems with the latest draft proposals.
These proposals, set out in a March 3 working paper obtained by Reuters, would expand a list of people, firms and groups whose assets would be frozen or trade with whom would be restricted, such as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the state-owned Bank Sepah.
Merkel, who is presiding over Germany’s EU presidency, stressed the need to maintain unity as the international community ratchets up the pressure on the Islamic republic.
“It was right to strive to maintain a common front with Russia and China,” she said.
Moscow and Beijing, like Washington, London and Paris, have veto powers on the 15-nation Security Council.