Reuters: Germany’s foreign minister told Iran on Saturday it was not too late to avoid sanctions and urged the Islamic republic to return to negotiations over its nuclear programme. By Louis Charbonneau
BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s foreign minister told Iran on Saturday it was not too late to avoid sanctions and urged the Islamic republic to return to negotiations over its nuclear programme.
Barring a change of heart by Iran, the European Union’s 25 foreign ministers want to agree at a meeting on Tuesday to ask the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions, Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.
“We have made it extremely clear that our offer for cooperation with Iran remains on the table,” Steinmeier said in an interview on RBB-Inforadio.
“We are prepared at any time to return to the negotiating table if Iran says it is ready to accept the conditions for negotiations.”
Iran rejects Western allegations it wants to produce highly-enriched uranium fuel for weapons and insists it wants low-grade fuel for nuclear power stations.
“At the moment there is no way to successfully negotiate (with Iran),” Steinmeier said.
In June, Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — offered Iran a package of incentives in exchange for a suspension of its uranium enrichment programme.
Although the six powers have yet to reach an agreement on what specific sanctions should be imposed on Iran, Steinmeier said he was confident they would reach a deal.
A list of possible sanctions had been agreed, he said.
The list includes proposals such as travel bans on officials, diplomats and scientists, freezing assets of persons and firms, and embargoes on the sale of items that could be used in Iran’s nuclear and missile programmes.
European diplomats have told Reuters one of the main disagreements among the six powers is over the speed of imposing sanctions. Washington, which has already placed virtually every possible restriction on U.S. trade with Iran, wants the other six countries to adopt similar harsh measures at once.
Russia and China, which have strong economic ties with Iran, have expressed reservations about slapping sanctions on Iran.
Steinmeier said Iran should not be so certain “the economic interests of Russia and China will automatically determine the positions of their governments in the Iranian nuclear conflict”.