France: West should sanction Iran 'decisively'

French defense minister says increased pressure is justified; calls to defeat Iran's stalling tactics in IAEA talks.

May 18, 2013 01:48
2 minute read.
Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at nuclear plant (Reuters) 311. (photo credit: Reuters)


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Iran's inflexible stance on curbing its nuclear program should lead the US and European nations to implement "decisive sanctions" against the Islamic Republic in the coming months, AFP cited French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian as saying on Friday.

According to Le Drian, the Western nations should pressure the advancement "in quantity and quality" of Iran's uranium enrichment program through sanctions and dialogue.

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In regards to accusations of Tehran's use of stalling tactics at the IAEA talks, aimed to resume an investigation into suspected atomic bomb research, and parallel negotiations with world powers, Le Drian said that "[more] than ever we have a responsibility to defeat this strategy of procrastination and concealment to ensure nuclear non-proliferation."

"This responsibility justifies the strong commitment of ours, alongside our American allies and European partners, for the implementation of decisive sanctions," he added during a talk at a Washington think tank.

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Diplomatic efforts to resolve a dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful but the West suspects is intended to give Iran the capability to build a nuclear bomb, have been all but deadlocked for years, while Iran has continued to announce advances in the program.

The United Nations' nuclear agency failed to persuade Iran on Wednesday to let it resume an investigation into suspected atomic bomb research, leaving the high-stakes diplomacy stymied.

On Thursday, Saeed Jalili, Iran's chief negotiator said Tehran is prepared to pursue nuclear diplomacy with world powers before or after next month's presidential election.

Negotiations between Iran and the six powers - Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany - have been deadlocked since a meeting last June.

Any movement in the decade-old standoff will now probably have to wait until after Iranians vote on June 14 for a successor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Jalili reiterated that Iran would never abandon its right to enrich uranium. Major powers want Tehran to suspend its enrichment activities to reassure the world that it is not seeking nuclear weapons. Iran denies having any such goal.

France spelled out on Friday that it would oppose a peace conference for Syria if Bashar Assad's regional ally Iran is invited, clouding the prospect for a US-Russian initiative to end the two-year-old war.

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No date has yet been agreed for the international meeting, which appears to face growing obstacles

France has hoped the Syrian conflict could be resolved through political means, though without inclusion of the Assad family, AFP cited Le Drian as saying.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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