AFP: The European Union could announce sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program within "days or weeks" if the UN Security Council fails to do so, Finland's foreign minister said Thursday.
By Michel Comte
OTTAWA (AFP) — The European Union could announce sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program within "days or weeks" if the UN Security Council fails to do so, Finland's foreign minister said Thursday.
Finland's Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb told a press conference after meeting with his Canadian counterpart that his government supports multi-party "diplomatic dialogue" with Iran over its nuclear programme.
"But if these talks don't give results, which is quite clear right now, then we go to sanctions," he said. "And we're ready to put down very strong sanctions."
The UN Security Council should take the lead on sanctions, he also said. "If that is not successful, then we will do it through the European Union … I would estimate, in a matter of days or weeks."
Sanctions would involve a financial embargo and "perhaps not realistically issues related to energy," he said.
In the past, China and Russia have been reluctant to move to greater sanctions against Iran, but Russia this week expressed frustration with the regime over the nuclear issue.
Stubb was in Ottawa to discuss Arctic cooperation, Russia, Afghanistan unrest, Haiti relief efforts and upcoming G8 and G20 talks in Canada, with Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon.
For his part, Cannon reiterated Canada's pledge to use its G8 presidency to pressure Iran into halting its nuclear enrichment.
G8 foreign ministers are to meet here next in March, followed by a leaders' summit in June.
Cannon also urged China, which could veto a UN Security Council vote on sanctions, to "step up to the plate" and "play a determining role in convincing Iran to conform to the international community's wishes."
The West suspects the Islamic republic of using its nuclear work as a cover for efforts to build the atomic bomb, a charge denied by Iran which insists the program aims solely to meet its growing civilian energy needs.
As Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran has produced highly enriched nuclear material in defiance of the West, Cannon said: "Canada and the international community will not accept the regime's latest moves bringing Iran considerably closer to possessing weapons-grade materials."
"Iran's regime must suspend its enrichment activity and take immediate steps toward transparency and compliance," he said.
"They must address the serious confidence deficit that exists amongst members of the international community."