Iran Nuclear NewsFrance sees Iran sanctions talks at UN next week

France sees Iran sanctions talks at UN next week

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Reuters: France said on Wednesday there was “growing consensus” among world powers including China and Russia on moving talks on Iran’s nuclear program to New York next week to prepare a new U.N. sanctions resolution. By Claudia Parsons

UNITED NATIONS, Dec 5 (Reuters) – France said on Wednesday there was “growing consensus” among world powers including China and Russia on moving talks on Iran’s nuclear program to New York next week to prepare a new U.N. sanctions resolution.

French Ambassador Jean-Maurice Ripert said a new U.S. intelligence report indicating Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003 would not stop plans for a new sanctions resolution since Iran was still in defiance of two Security Council resolutions demanding it halt uranium enrichment.

Privately, however, diplomats said Monday’s National Intelligence Estimate report, which contradicted previous assertions by the Bush administration, had complicated the quest for agreement on new sanctions.

Although the report also said Iran was continuing to develop the technical means that could be applied to producing weapons, it appeared likely to increase resistance from Russia and China to U.S. demands for more sanctions. China’s U.N. ambassador said on Tuesday “things have changed” on the issue.

“This has made our task more difficult,” said one Security Council diplomat, who asked not to be identified but whose country supports fresh sanctions.

Washington has said it will continue pressing for a third round of sanctions unless Iran halts uranium enrichment, a process with both civilian and military uses.

Ripert told reporters outside the Security Council that political directors of the five veto-holding permanent members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — and Germany were still discussing sanctions.

“There is a growing consensus in my view on the necessity of starting acting in New York next week, as soon as possible,” Ripert said. “Currently they are narrowing the differences on precise issues and technicalities of what could be the kind of pressures and measures that could be adopted.”

“It’s not over yet so it’s very difficult to know, but the differences are not growing, they are narrowing,” he said.

“There is an agreement among the six that Iran should fulfill its commitments,” Ripert said, adding that he was not aware of greater resistance by China or Russia to sanctions since the release of the U.S. intelligence report.

If U.N. diplomats start discussing a resolution next week, it could still take some time for a text to come to a Security Council vote. Western powers are likely to push for a vote before next month, when five council members will change and Libya will take over the rotating presidency from Italy.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi said on Wednesday China wants the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program resolved through negotiation.

Yang did not directly respond to questions on whether the new U.S. report had changed the situation or whether China would support new United Nations sanctions. He did say that the relevant U.N. resolutions should be implemented.

(Additional reporting by Patrick Worsnip; editing by David Wiessler)

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