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Britain, France urge new strong sanctions on Iran

12 november 2011, 13:07
Britain and France, in a joint statement Wednesday, called for new tougher strong sanctions to be imposed on Iran unless Tehran cooperates over its nuclear programme, AFP reports.

The call came after Iran vowed it "will not budge an iota" from its nuclear path despite a new UN report hardening suspicions it is seeking atomic weapons.

"The parties shared their utmost concern regarding the military dimension to Iran's nuclear programme in the light of ... (the) IAEA report and made clear their determination to seek new powerful sanctions if Iran refuses to cooperate," the two nations said in their joint statement.

"Our goal remains to ensure that Iran fully adheres to its international obligations," it added.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, in its report published Tuesday spoke of "credible" evidence that Iran is working towards making nuclear warheads to fit inside Shahab-3 medium-range missiles.

Iranian officials immediately dismissed the report as "baseless". Tehran has long insisted that its nuclear programme is purely for civilian energy purposes.

Washington said it was looking at imposing more sanctions on the Islamic republic in the wake of the report's findings.

Earlier in the day Britain warned Iran it would take new measures if Tehran does not "change direction."

"Iran needs to change direction," Foreign Secretary William Hague told parliament. "We want a negotiated solution and have extended the hand of reconciliation to Iran time and time again."

If Tehran refuses to engage in serious negotiations about its nuclear programme, "we must continue to increase the pressure and we are considering with our partners a range of additional measures to that affect," said Hague.

"The assertions of recent years by Iran that their nuclear programme is wholly for peaceful purposes are completely discredited by this report."

And France said it was ready for "unprecedented sanctions" if Tehran continued to defy the world over its atomic programme.

"If Iran refuses to abide by the demands of the international community and rejects all serious cooperation, we are prepared to adopt, with those countries that follow, unprecedented sanctions," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The unprecedented report that the International Atomic Energy Agency has just published strengthens France's profound concern about Iran's nuclear programme," it said.

The ministry said that activities noted in the IAEA's report "are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and the IAEA's governing council. They have no credible civil purpose."

"All of this means that Iran has sought, and apparently continues to seek, the nuclear bomb under the cover of an alleged civilian and peaceful programme."

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