EU backs sanctions on Iran, N. Korea

Members urge the two nations to abandon nuclear weapons, but not dialogue.

October 17, 2006 19:14
1 minute read.
EU backs sanctions on Iran, N. Korea

eu 88. (photo credit: )

The European Union urged North Korea and Iran to heed international calls Tuesday to return to negotiations to resolve standoffs with the international community over their nuclear programs. The EU foreign ministers said they have no choice but to back diplomatic talks at the United Nations about sanctions against Iran and to also push for UN punitive measures against Pyongyang for setting off a nuclear blast Oct. 9. At a meeting, they cautioned the latter not to carry out any further tests, as reports from Japan and South Korea seemed to indicate. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said a second test would be "a renewed and unacceptable provocation." Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said it would be "very unwise." The EU ministers said North Korea's test triggered "a clear threat to international peace and security" and demanded Pyongyang return to six-party talks aimed at persuading the country to dismantle its weapons program, sign the international nuclear test ban treaty and allow in UN nuclear inspectors. "It is clear that the North Korean nuclear crisis can be solved only by dialogue," Steinmeier said. EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said EU governments would endorse a resolution by the UN Security Council imposing a visa ban, export restrictions and bank controls on North Korea as punishment against its nuclear weapons program. Separately, the EU backed a decision by the UN's five permanent Security Council members and Germany to pursue limited sanctions against Teheran, while keeping the door open to future talks. Solana said Iran continues to refuse to suspend its nuclear enrichment program during future negotiations on its nuclear program. "We have to see if we can overcome the situation that makes it impossible to start negotiations," he said. Washington has called for broad sanctions, such as a total ban on missile and nuclear technology sales, while the Russians and Chinese backed prohibitions of selected items as a first step. EU nations have not decided what sanctions they might support against Teheran, but are leaning toward softer measures. Officials said a package of incentives aimed at persuading Iran to halt uranium enrichment was still on offer. "That door remains open, but that requires a willingness on the Iranian side to step through the door," Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said.

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