Iran Nuclear NewsDespite report, France and Germany keep pressure on Iran

Despite report, France and Germany keep pressure on Iran

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New York Times: The leaders of France and Germany said Thursday that Iran remained a danger and that other nations needed to keep up the pressure over its nuclear program despite a United States intelligence report’s conclusion that Tehran was no longer building a bomb. The New York Times

By KATRIN BENNHOLD
Published: December 7, 2007

PARIS, Dec. 6 — The leaders of France and Germany said Thursday that Iran remained a danger and that other nations needed to keep up the pressure over its nuclear program despite a United States intelligence report’s conclusion that Tehran was no longer building a bomb.

Speaking at a joint news conference at the Élysée Palace, President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chancellor Angela Merkel said they had not changed their minds despite the findings of the American intelligence estimate released Monday, which some believed would have eroded support for tougher new sanctions.

Their remarks came as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice won the backing of NATO foreign ministers on Thursday for new United Nations sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

“The threat exists,” said Mr. Sarkozy, one of the staunchest defenders of the new sanctions. “Notwithstanding the latest elements, everyone is fully conscious of the fact that there is a will among the Iranian leaders to obtain nuclear weapons.”

“I don’t see why we should renounce sanctions,” he added. “What made Iran budge so far has been sanctions and firmness.”

Mrs. Merkel stopped short of explicitly mentioning sanctions, but also appeared determined to support current negotiations in the Security Council on the issue. “I think that we are in a process, and that Iran continues to pose a danger,” she said.

The National Intelligence Estimate made public on Monday said that Tehran had frozen its nuclear weapons program in 2003. But it also said that the country was continuing to build up a technical ability that could be used both for civilian and military purposes.

Both leaders urged the continuation of a strategy that combined pressure with dialogue.

In comments apparently directed at Russia and China, two members of the Security Council that have been reluctant to endorse new sanctions, Mr. Sarkozy urged that there be a coherent position, a view Mrs. Merkel said she shared.

At a working dinner with Ms. Rice at NATO headquarters in Brussels, the NATO foreign ministers accepted the Bush administration’s argument that Iran remains a threat, the Belgian foreign minister, Karel De Gucht, told reporters.

“On Iran, everybody around the table agreed we should not change our position,” he said. Ms. Rice will see the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, on Friday. Israeli officials say their intelligence indicates that Iran is still working aggressively to build nuclear arms.

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