France pushes for more Iran sanctions

Israel, US also hope damning new IAEA report will revive efforts to sanction the Islamic Republic.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, AP
September 16, 2008 00:12
4 minute read.
France pushes for more Iran sanctions

Iran Nuclear 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

France led a push Tuesday for more international sanctions against Iran after a damning new IAEA report. "We have no other choice than to work in the days and weeks to come toward a new (UN) Security Council sanctions resolution," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday that Iran has repeatedly blocked a UN investigation into allegations that it tried to make nuclear weapons and that the probe is now deadlocked. Chevallier called the UN nuclear watchdog's findings "very worrisome." On Monday, the US and Israel also expressed hope that the new report would revive efforts to sanction the Islamic Republic. "This is another clear signal that the Iranian regime is playing games with the international community with a policy of deception. It should strengthen all members of the international community in their resolve to act to prevent the Iranians from moving forward on their nuclear program," Prime Minister's Office spokesman Mark Regev said of the IAEA report on Iran on Monday. "It is now incumbent upon the international community to ratchet up the pressure on Teheran." And White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said, "We urge Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities or face further implementation of the existing United Nations Security Council sanctions and the possibility of new sanctions." The UN Security Council imposed its third round of sanctions against Iran in March. But even before the release of the IAEA report, US and Israeli officials had feared that the latest sanctions had not produced the desired results. Meanwhile, five former US secretaries of state, gathering to give their best advice to the next president, agreed on Monday that the United States should talk to Iran. The wide-ranging, 90-minute session in a packed auditorium at The George Washington University, produced exceptional unity among Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Warren Christopher, Henry A. Kissinger and James A. Baker III. The Bush administration has dragged its feet on even minimal contact with Iran under hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a course the five former secretaries of state implicitly criticized. Nor did they suggest the United States should keep its distance out of concern for Israel, which Ahmadinejad has said should be "wiped off the face of the map." "The military options are very poor," Christopher said. "And we have to tell the Israelis that." Kissinger, for his part, said he favored negotiations with Iran, but the United States should spell out its objectives at the outset. And that, he said, included a stable Middle East. Kissinger, secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations from 1973-1977, said the US negotiators also should seek a halt to Iran providing weapons to militant groups. Albright said if she were secretary of state, she would begin the talks at the State Department level. "You need to engage with countries you have problems with," she said. Secretary of state in the President Bill Clinton's administration from 1997-2001, she said, "The more we criticize Ahmadinejad the stronger he gets" within Iranian society. As the five former secretaries cruised through world issues, they hewed to a line that the United States had to project its standing but also to work with other countries. The US administration, however, was not adopting the policy suggested by the former secretaries of state but rather continued to support sanctions on Iran as the latest IAEA report found that the Islamic republic had continued to enrich uranium, a key material for building a nuclear weapon, in defiance of international demands. Iran had roughly doubled its supply of low enriched uranium since the last IAEA report in May, the agency's investigators reported. The report also pointed to a lack of Iranian cooperation in its work. "The Agency, regrettably, has not been able to make any substantive progress" on key issues of "serious concern," the report states. One senior UN official, speaking on condition of anonymity, termed the situation "gridlock." "I think the IAEA is expressing its frustration, and one way it does that is by providing more and clearer information to outsiders," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, referring to the report's disclosure of findings relating to Iranian nuclear capacity and its reference to obtaining information indicating the Iranians might have "the assistance of foreign expertise." The report does not elaborate on the point, however. "This is a clear call that the United Nations needs to increase the number of sanctions on Iran. There's nothing in this report that says, there's some progress on transparency or a change in attitude" on the part of Iran, said Albright, a nuclear weapons inspection advisor. "The only progress [is in] Iran enriching faster." Leonard Spector, deputy director of the Monterey Institute of International Studies' James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, agreed that the report should serve as a wake-up call to enhance international sanctions pressure on Iran, but said that Chinese and Russian opposition - particularly as the situation in Georgia strains its ties with the West - could well counteract that impetus. The Bush administration's increasing lame duck status also doesn't help, he said. He noted that both presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama, support greatly enhanced sanctions, but that while "there will be a unified American viewpoint, the elections diffuse the message a little bit. It doesn't have the same punch." The report makes clear that "there hasn't been any impact of the sanctions on the uranium enrichment program that we have seen," Spector said, while at the same time suggesting that sanctions will be harder to use because of what Iran has accomplished in terms of know-how and technology in the meantime. The desired halt to Iranian activity, he said, is "harder and harder to achieve because the facts on the ground are changing."


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