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French Foreign Minister Assails Iran Nuclear Defiance

October 09, 2008

PARIS/PRAGUE (RFE/RL) -- French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has warned that the continued standoff over Iran's nuclear program is creating an increasingly dangerous situation and accused Tehran of making dialogue on the topic "impossible."

Speaking to a correspondent for RFE/RL's Radio Farda in Paris, Kouchner described frustration among global powers over Iranian intransigence despite UN demands that it halt uranium enrichment and other disputed nuclear activities.

"In their latest resolution, passed on [September 27], the six countries -- the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany -- continued to stress that the situation was getting more and more dangerous," Kouchner told a correspondent for RFE/RL's Radio Farda in Paris. "We are for dialogue. But where is the dialogue? Every time we met with the Iranians it was impossible to pursue a dialogue."

Kouchner cited a closely watched but inconclusive summit in Geneva on July 19, where U.S. officials broke with decades of policy to join envoys from Russia, China, France, Germany, and Britain for high-level talks on the nuclear issue with their Iranian counterparts.

"That [meeting] resulted in empty declarations," Kouchner said.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have spearheaded international efforts to pressure Iran to curb its nuclear program, although Russia and China have balked at tougher measures urged by the United States and its EU allies.

The September 27 resolution urged Iran to halt uranium enrichment but stopped short of a fourth round of sanctions.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband on October 7 reiterated his country's commitment to further sanctions against Iran's oil and gas sector if Tehran continues objectionable nuclear work.

U.S. President George W. Bush has repeatedly rejected as "unacceptable" the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

Both U.S. presidential candidates, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, vowed on October 7 to push for tighter sanctions to discourage Tehran from trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

Kouchner was speaking to Farda ahead of a scheduled trip to Georgia, where he said he expects to witness the completion of a pullout of Russian troops from Georgian territory outside the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

reporting by Radio Farda's Mirali Hosseini

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/Kouchner_Iran_Nuclear/1328560.html

Copyright (c) 2008. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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