Iran Nuclear NewsFrance says in hurry to reach Iran deal

France says in hurry to reach Iran deal

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Reuters: France said on Wednesday world powers must agree quickly on sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme or put the credibility of the United Nations at risk. By Francois Murphy

PARIS (Reuters) – France said on Wednesday world powers must agree quickly on sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme or put the credibility of the United Nations at risk.

Senior officials from the six countries — France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China and the United States — were unable to agree a draft U.N. resolution at a meeting on Tuesday and France said several key differences remain between the West and Russia.

“Are we in a hurry or not?” French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said at a news conference. “Yes, because I believe, as someone said earlier, that the credibility of the United Nations Security Council is at stake.”

The United States voiced growing impatience.

“We will continue to work for consensus so that we can get as many countries voting for a sanctions resolution but we are getting to the point now where we need to come to a vote in the not too distant future,” U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said any decision to impose sanctions on Iran would be illegal.

“We (would) consider such a decision as a threat to our national interests and security,” Mottaki said. “The Security Council is a place to strengthen security for countries, not to threaten security,” he said at a news conference in The Hague.

Iran denies Western charges that its nuclear programme is a cover for an atomic weapons programme but was ordered by the Security Council to freeze enrichment for failing to convince the world that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.

A European diplomat said on Tuesday France, Britain and Germany, who drafted the original sanctions proposal, told Russia they wanted a resolution to be passed by the end of the year so as to preserve the U.N. body’s credibility.

“The gap between the Russian and U.S. positions is still huge,” an “EU3” diplomat told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The White House ruled out one-to-one talks with Iran about Iraq unless Tehran suspends nuclear activities, after the Iraq Study Group recommended more engagement with the Islamic republic.

After forcing the Europeans to water down their sanctions plans over the past weeks and spurning tough measures against Iran, the Russians indicated a compromise might be possible, prompting Tuesday’s hastily-arranged talks.

Mottaki said: “We consider negotiations the best choice for solving any problem.”

TELEPHONE TALKS

The Russians agreed to export bans on more technology and materials that could be used in Iran’s nuclear or ballistic missile programmes but little progress had been made on financial sanctions against people and organisations linked to sensitive work, or on visa bans, the European diplomat said.

The sanctions would be a first phase of punishment against Iran for its failure to comply with an August 31 U.N. deadline to suspend uranium enrichment, which can produce fuel for nuclear power plants or for bombs.

France, Britain and Germany decided at the meeting the time had come to move their negotiations back to the United Nations in New York in a last push to broker a deal.

As a first step, foreign ministers would hold discussions, probably by telephone “very soon”, Douste-Blazy said.

EU diplomats say unanimous approval of even mild sanctions will send a strong signal to Tehran that the world is determined to stop it obtaining nuclear arms.

Asked if the United States was likely to try and solve the nuclear crisis militarily, Mottaki said: “The United States had a good taste in Afghanistan and in Iraq and I do not see the U.S. administration imposing another crisis to American taxpayers in our region.”

(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau in Berlin and Emma Thomasson in The Hague)

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