Reuters: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday the international community must use all diplomatic options, including By Louis Charbonneau and Allyn Fisher-Ilan
BERLIN (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday the international community must use all diplomatic options, including sanctions, to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.
At a news conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Merkel said this was why Germany and the five permanent U.N. Security Council members — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — are working on a resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran.
“It must be unmistakeable and clear to Iran that (getting a nuclear weapon) would not be acceptable,” Merkel said.
“That is why the time has come … not just to think about, but to work on sanctions,” she said.
Tehran has rejected an offer made by the six powers in June. The sextet offered Iran economic and political benefits in exchange for a suspension of its nuclear enrichment programme, which could produce an atomic bomb.
Iran denies wanting nuclear weapons and insists its atomic ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.
Israel has threatened Tehran with military action but Olmert spoke in favour of a diplomatic solution.
For months the “EU3” — Germany, France and Britain — and the United States have struggled to persuade Russia of the need to sanction Iran for its failure to comply with an August deadline the Security Council gave Iran to halt enrichment.
Russia’s U.N. ambassador on Monday praised the EU3’s latest draft resolution but objected to a travel ban on some Iranian officials and wanted to cut back plans to freeze Iranian assets.
Olmert later told reporters he had no reason to think Russia was sabotaging negotiations on the Iran resolution.
“(Russian President Vladimir) Putin … is serious in his opposition to the nuclearisation of Iran,” he said.
Olmert welcomed Merkel’s stance on Iran’s nuclear programme and her rejection of a conference on the Holocaust organised by the Iranian government in Tehran.
Merkel said Germany would never accept doubt about the Holocaust and “will counter it in every way we can”.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly called for Israel to be wiped off the map.
Merkel reiterated she planned to use Germany’s upcoming European Union presidency to revive the stalled Middle East peace process and that the “quartet” should play a key role.
She was referring to the group of four international mediators — the United States, the EU, the United Nations and Russia — who launched the Middle East “road map” in 2003 which was intended to revive talks on a long-term peace.
Olmert responded sceptically. “If there will be any such ideas, before they’re presented we’ll undoubtedly know about them. And we haven’t seen any,” he said.
Earlier, he laid a wreath and lit a candle at a memorial to Jews deported to ghettoes and death camps during World War Two. Six million Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis.
Olmert heads to Italy on Wednesday to meet Prime Minister Romano Prodi and Pope Benedict.