European foreign ministers ahead of EU meeting 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Thierry Roge)
PAPHOS, Cyprus - European Union heavyweights Britain, France and Germany called on Friday for new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, as Israel continues to threaten military action.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Iran's failure to meet international demands to scale back its nuclear work meant new sanctions should be discussed within weeks.
"Sanctions are necessary and soon. I can't see there is really a constructive will on the Iranian side for substantial talks," Westerwelle told Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Cyprus.
"If they will not come back to the table, then probably the next round is necessary. This is not something for next year, we are talking about next weeks," he said. He called the outcome of this year's three rounds of negotiations between world powers and Iran "disappointing".
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said diplomacy was at a standstill. "We will discuss in the next days the details of strengthening sanctions," he told reporters.
Fabius suggested new measures could target the finance, trade and oil sectors, but gave no other details. Westerwelle and British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who also said new sanctions were necessary, both stopped short of listing possible targets.
EU foreign ministers were meeting in Cyprus to discuss informally issues such as the bloc's response to the Iranian atomic program and the crisis in Syria. But they were not scheduled to take any decisions.
The European Union implemented its latest round of sanctions on Iran in July, banning oil imports from the Islamic Republic. The United States is applying increasing diplomatic pressure around the world to isolate the Iranian economy.
The sanctions are aimed at forcing Iran to curb the nuclear activities the West believes are aimed at developing atomic weapons capability, an allegation Tehran denies. Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful, energy, purposes.
Israel, believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the Middle East, sees the possibility of Iran developing an atomic bomb as a threat to its existence and has said it may use military means if diplomacy and sanctions fail.