Friday, December 11, 2009

France Leads Push for Iranian Sanctions at U.N.

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Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

France has asked its fellow members on the United Nations Security Council to start work on a new round of sanctions against Iran for its refusal to verify the peaceful character of its nuclear program. France's desire is supported by Britain and the United States, two other permanent members of the council. But China and Russia, both of which also wield veto power, insist there is still time for diplomacy. On December 10, France's permanent representative to the UN, Gerard Araud, told reporters that the time for negotiating is over. "We want to solve this issue but again, we are following a dual track policy, on the one side asking for negotiations, on the other side increasing the pressure on Iran and we consider that the time has come to increase this pressure," Araud said. Asked by reporters after the council's meeting whether the time for sanctions has come, the U.S. permanent representative to the UN, Susan Rice, said Iran still has a choice.

"Those under sanctions and pressure have the potential of an off-ramp but they have to take it and the choice is now Iran's. Time is short and we've not yet seen the kind of response from Iran that we think would be in their interest and the interest of international peace and security," Rice said. "And absent that, in the very short term we will be back here [UN Security Council], as I suggested in my remarks, to talk about further actions that may be necessary." Rice confirmed U.S. President Barack Obama's previously stated deadline of "the end of the year" for Iran to comply with the demands for disclosure and clarity on its nuclear program. In the apparent absence of such compliance, and in the face of Iran's confrontational stand with the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it's likely that the Security Council may start work on a new set of sanctions in early 2010. (Read more...)