Iran Nuclear NewsGerman FM moots EU sanctions on Iran

German FM moots EU sanctions on Iran

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AFP: Visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday raised the possibility of EU sanctions against Iran after Israel called for Berlin’s backing over its enemy’s nuclear drive. by Jean-Luc Renaudie

TEL AVIV (AFP) – Visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Thursday raised the possibility of EU sanctions against Iran after Israel called for Berlin’s backing over its enemy’s nuclear drive.

“Germany’s position does not differ from that of the United States or some other European countries. If Iran refuses to provide answers, we should think about the possibility of European sanctions,” he told a news conference.

Standing alongside his Israeli opposite number, Tzipi Livni, Steinmeier said that Iran had until the middle of next month to satisfy Western concerns that its nuclear programme is not a cover for developing atomic weapons.

Germany is one of six major powers involved in talks over Iran’s nuclear programme, which Israel and the West say is aimed at developing an atomic bomb, a claim denied by Tehran.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called for German support for further sanctions against archfoe Iran’s nuclear programme earlier on Thursday.

“The prime minister stressed the importance he ascribes to Germany’s strong support of the continued expansion of sanctions against Iran,” Olmert’s office said in a statement following his talks with Steinmeier.

The UN Security Council is expected to weigh new sanctions against Iran later this year after the International Atomic Energy Agency submits a report on Iran’s cooperation with inspectors.

Permanent Security Council members Russia and China have both nevertheless said they opposed further punitive steps.

Olmert last month held talks with the leaders of Russia, France and Britain in an effort to win their support for new sanctions.

In mid-October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said if Iran did not “respect the resolutions of the international community, of the United Nations Security Council” a new round of sanctions should be introduced.

Israel is widely considered to be the Middle East’s sole — if undeclared — nuclear-armed nation with an estimated 200 warheads.

It considers Iran its chief enemy after repeated statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that the Jewish state should be wiped off the map.

Olmert also briefed Steinmeier on Israel’s talks with the Palestinians ahead of an international peace meeting expected to take place in the United States later this year.

“Olmert emphasised the importance of the expected meeting in Annapolis, which will be able to serve as a milestone and create the necessary support for the continuation and expansion of the existing process between Israel and the Palestinians,” the statement said.

Asked about the upcoming conference, Steinmeier said Europe was willing to make a financial help to the Palestinians.

“We are offering to help. It’s for the Israelis and Palestinians to tell us if they want it,” he said.

Steinmeier was scheduled to hold talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in the occupied West Bank early on Thursday evening.

Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak also met his German opposite number Franz Josef Jung in Tel Aviv on Thursday for talks focusing on “bilateral diplomatic and security issues,” Barak’s office said in a statement.

The former Israeli chief of staff “emphasised the great importance in Germany’s support for sanctions against Iran.”

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