France wants to bring together members of the UN Security Council and could push for unprecedented sanctions in light of the International Atomic Energy Agency report saying Iran has worked to develop an atomic bomb design.

"Convening of the UN Security Council is called for," Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told RFI radio, adding that pressure needed to be ramped up on Iran and that France was willing to go further with sanctions.

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"We cannot accept this situation which is a threat," said Juppe.



In a statement, Juppe said diplomatic pressure needed to be ramped up.



"If Iran refuses to conform to the demands of the international community and refuses any serious cooperation, we stand ready to adopt, with other willing countries, sanctions on an unprecedented scale," Juppe said.

China, meanwhile, called for a peaceful resolution to the Iranian nuclear issue, amidst Chinese media speculation that the Iranian nuclear program would lead to a showdown between the Islamic Republic the West.

"China advocates using peaceful means to resolve the Iran nuclear issue," Chinese Foreign Minister Hong Lei told a daily news briefing.

Hong said China - one of five permanent members of the Security Council also including France - was still studying the report, but urged Iran to show "flexibility" and "sincerity".

A Chinese state newspaper warned on Wednesday that a standoff between Iran and the West over Iran's nuclear plans could erupt in military conflict.

Chinese policy-makers are caught between their demand for Iranian oil and worry that the United States and its allies will demand harsher sanctions against Iran, even risk military action, after the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded Iran appeared to have worked on designing an atomic weapon.

"It is clear that contention between the various sides over the Iranian nuclear issue has reached white hot levels and could even be on the precipice of a showdown," the overseas edition of the People's Daily said in a front-page commentary.

If Iran refused to back down in the face of growing US conviction that it was developing nuclear weapons, "the risks of war will grow", said the paper, noting reports that Israel could consider a military strike on Iranian nuclear sites.

The People's Daily is the top newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party and broadly reflects official thinking.

China's official Xinhua news agency also suggested that Beijing would respond warily to the report. The UN watchdog still "lacks a smoking gun", Xinhua said in a commentary.

"There are no witnesses or physical evidence to prove that Iran is making nuclear weapons," it said.

"In dealing with the Iran nuclear issue, it is extremely dangerous to rely on suspicions, and the destructive consequences of any armed action would endure for a long time."

China is likely to face difficult choices as it tries to keep steady ties with the United States, which is likely to introduce new unilateral sanctions on Iran.

"If these sanctions harm China's substantive interests, then China will have to respond in some way," said Li Hong, the secretary general of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, a government-controlled body.

"It would certainly have an impact on bilateral relations," Li said in an interview.

Click here for full Jpost coverage of the Iranian threat

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