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. France calls for complete halt to Iran uranium enrichment
PARIS (AFP) Oct 16, 2004
France and its G8 partners should call for a complete suspension by Iran of its advanced uranium enrichment programme, the French foreign ministry said on Saturday.

"Time is of the essence. France will continue to work with its partners and the Iranian authorities... towards the complete suspension by Iran of its enrichment and reprocessing activities," the ministry said in a press statement.

A November 25 deadline for Iran to comply with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demands to suspend uranium enrichment work is looming, with the possibility that Iran may be referred to the UN Security Council and face sanctions if it misses the deadline.

Britain, France and Germany told the United States on Friday at a G8 meeting in Washington that they would offer Iran incentives to try to persuade it to halt uranium enrichment activities which they fear are linked to a plan to build nuclear weapons.

The Europeans are hoping the inducements will satisfy the US, which backs a tougher line against Iran.

However Iran has since said it will reject any European proposal for a complete cessation of its work on the nuclear fuel cycle. It has said, however, that it would be willing to consider further "confidence-building" measures and extending a suspension of uranium enrichment.

"As well as leading this joint effort, we recognise the right of any state to use nuclear weapons in accordance with the (nuclear) Non Proliferation Treaty," the French statement said.

It added that the Washington G8 meeting had "shown the intensity of the efforts made to try to reach a solution by diplomatic means."

"These efforts will continue in the weeks ahead with the aim of reaching an agreement between now and the meeting" of the IAEA on November 25, the statement said.

Under the terms of an accord signed late last year with Germany, France and Britain, Iran pledged to suspend uranium enrichment activities and accepted unannounced inspections of its nuclear facilities.

However, it has since resumed work on centrifuges key to the enrichment process and back-tracked on its commitment to allow snap inspections, claiming the Europeans have not held up their end of the deal.

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