Powers meet on Iran sanctions; Tehran defiant

4th December 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Dec 5, 2006 (AFP) - High-ranking diplomats from six world powers prepared to meet in Paris on Tuesday in search of a sanctions package against Iran, as Tehran warned that it would take any attempt to thwart its nuclear programme as an "act of hostility".

PARIS, Dec 5, 2006 (AFP) - High-ranking diplomats from six world powers prepared to meet in Paris on Tuesday in search of a sanctions package against Iran, as Tehran warned that it would take any attempt to thwart its nuclear programme as an "act of hostility".

Top foreign ministry officials from the five veto-wielding UN Security Council members — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany were to attend the talks Tuesday evening at the French foreign ministry.

A representative of European Union policy chief Javier Solana was also to participate.

The aim is to reach agreement over what economic sanctions to impose on Iran for ignoring a UN deadline of August 31 to stop enriching uranium — which outside powers fear could be used to make nuclear weapons.

France's Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the talks had a strong chance of succeeding.

"I think that we can now reach agreement on the text," he said in Brussels Monday after talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

A draft UN Security Council resolution put together by Britain, France and Germany would bar trade with Iran in goods related to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and slap financial and travel restrictions on persons and agencies involved.

Russia and China — who have strong economic interests in Iran — have tried to water down the text, while Washington wants to beef it up.

A top Russian official was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency Tuesday saying that Security Council members were moving closer to an accord.

"Our differences on the draft resolution are not strategic in character, but tactical. It is very hard to predict what will happen once it is passed, there are arguments pro and contra, the process is still going on," said Igor Ivanov, secretary of Russia's Security Council.

Ahead of the meeting in Paris, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Europe that international action over Iran's nuclear programme could endanger its relations with Tehran.

"If you (Europeans) continue making efforts to halt the progress of the Iranian nuclear programme and if you take any step against the Iranian nation's rights, either in propaganda or international bodies, the Islamic republic will consider this an act of hostility," Ahmadinejad said in a speech.

"And if you continue with this, the Iranian nation will revise the direction of its path and its plans related to you," he said.

His defiance was echoed by the top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who told a press conference in Dubai: "If this resolution has the aim of stopping the Iranian nuclear programme as its goal, this will serve nothing.

"Rest assured that Iran will not give into pressures and will not surrender its inalienable right" to its nuclear programme, he said.

The six powers suspect Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian power generation programme — which Tehran strongly denies.

On Sunday Israel approved the creation of a new ministry for strategic affairs, mainly to deal with Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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