by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Jan 20, 2012
French President Nicolas Sarkozy warned Friday that any foreign military intervention against Iran's nuclear programme would trigger "war and chaos" across the Middle East and beyond.
"Time is limited. France will do everything to avoid military intervention, but there is only one way to avoid it: a much tougher, more decisive, sanctions regime," Sarkozy told an audience of diplomats in Paris.
He called on all countries to freeze Iranian central bank assets and halt imports of Iranian oil.
"Those who do not want to reinforce sanctions against a regime which is leading its country into disaster by seeking a nuclear weapon will bear responsibility for the risk of a military breakdown," he warned.
"And I say to our Chinese and Russian friends: Help us guarantee peace in the world ... we clearly need you," he added.
"A military intervention would not solve the problem but would unleash war and chaos in the Middle East and perhaps, alas, the world," he warned.
France has been one of the loudest Western voices pushing for economic sanctions to force Iran to abandon its nuclear programme, which Paris fears could lead to the Islamic regime developing an atomic bomb.
But it remains opposed to calls from some hawks in the United States and Israel for air strikes against Iranian facilities.
Iran insists its nuclear fuel enrichment programme is designed to produce fuel for reactors in future civilian power stations and for medical isotopes.
Tehran has vowed to defeat any military intervention and has warned that it may attempt to block shipping lanes and choke off oil exports from the Gulf if sanctions target its own energy industry or banks.
Britain and the United States have tightened their economic sanctions while the European Union is to meet next week and is expected to approve new measures against Iranian oil exports and the financial sector.
'Still waiting' for Iran response to nuclear talks offer: EU
Ashton on October 21 sent Iran's nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili a letter on behalf of permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, plus non-permanent member Germany she represents in the talks.
"We are waiting for the Iranian reaction," said her office in a statement on behalf of the so-called P5-plus-1.
It added the powers had "always been clear about the validity of the dual track approach" of continuing dialogue while sanctioning Iran's disputed nuclear drive.
Ashton's office said it was responding to speculation of an imminent resumption of the talks.
In the letter, Ashton says: "I can confirm that our overall goal remains a comprehensive negotiated long-term solution which restores international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme."
But it states that "we can achieve a full settlement only by focusing on the key issue, which are the concerns about the nature of your nuclear programme, as reflected in IAEA reports."
Last talks between the two sides took place in Istanbul a year ago and produced no results.
Ashton said in her missive: "If the Iranian side is prepared to engage seriously in meaningful discussions on concrete confidence building steps and demonstrate willingness to address the international community's concerns about the nature of its nuclear programme, without pre-conditions, we would be willing to agree on a next meeting."
In Washington, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Ashton's letter "makes very clear what is expected" for negotiations to take place.
She said she would not delve into negotiations that "Iran hasn't even accepted to have" when asked if the P5-plus-1 remained united in calling for Tehran to halt all uranium enrichment activity.
"What I can tell you is that we have absolute confidence that the P5-plus-1 will be united if and when it sits down with Iran," Nuland said.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had said in Brussels this week that both Iran and global powers were ready and willing to restart the talks, while Ashton's office had said there was no progress.
"Both sides declared the intention to meet and to restart the negotiations" but "of course it is up to both sides to decide," Davutoglu said.
The minister told journalists that during his recent visit to Tehran "Iran declared that they are ready to restart the talks" and that Ashton "asked me to consult this with the Iranian side as well."
"We will be happy to host this new round of talks," he added.
But a spokesman for Ashton was less optimistic than Davutoglu in comments Wednesday.
"We've always said we're open for talks," Michael Mann told AFP. "However we will not do so until there's a response from Iran in substance to the (EU) High Representative's letter of October last year."
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com
Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.
EU readies unprecedented Iran oil, bank sanctions
Brussels (AFP) Jan 20, 2012
The European Union is readying its toughest action to date against Iran, moving to dry up funding of its contested nuclear drive by targeting both its oil and financial sector, diplomats said Friday. Foreign ministers from the 27-nation bloc meeting in Brussels on Monday are expected to agree to sanction Tehran's central bank - and possibly other banks - and announce an embargo on purchasi ... read more
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2012 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|