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No Deal On Iran Sanctions At Paris Talks

In Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Europe that international action over Iran's nuclear programme could endanger 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. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Dec 05, 2006
Six world powers meeting in Paris Tuesday said they had failed to agree what sanctions to impose over Iran's refusal to halt sensitive nuclear work, as diplomats said that Russia was blocking a deal. Top diplomats from the five veto-wielding UN Security Council members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany and a European Union envoy, took part in the talks.

"We made substantive progress on the scope of the sanctions, targeting proliferation sensitive activities," the French foreign ministry, which hosted the meeting, said in a statement afterwards.

"We are now close to a conclusion of this process," it added, but said there were still "several outstanding issues".

"The next step will be in New York," it said, in a reference to the headquarters of the United Nations, without specifying when the next round of talks would take place.

The six powers are trying to agree 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.

Moscow and Beijing -- who have strong economic interests in Iran -- have tried to water down a draft UN Security Council resolution drawn up by France, Britain and Germany, while Washington wants to beef the text up.

The European draft would bar trade with Iran in goods related to its nuclear and ballistic missile programs and impose financial and travel restrictions on persons and agencies involved.

According to diplomats in Paris, Russia -- though willing to back the trade ban -- is still opposed to sanctions being applied to individuals.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said earlier Tuesday that Moscow would support a ban on shipments of sensitive goods but said broader sanctions would be counter-productive.

"We believe it is necessary to approve the proposal on forbidding deliveries of technology, material and services in the field of uranium enrichment, chemical processing of radioactive fuel, and heavy-water technology to Iran from abroad," he was quoted as saying by Ria Novosti news agency.

He criticised "our Western partners" for supporting the adoption of wide-reaching sanctions that are "not proportionate" to the monitoring capacity of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"Such a wholesale approach to banning cooperation with Iran in various spheres will only exacerbate the situation," he said.

The meeting in the French capital came after Tehran warned it would take any attempt to thwart its nuclear programme as an "act of hostility".

In Tehran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad warned Europe that international action over Iran's nuclear programme could endanger 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.

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.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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