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N-plan: France urges Iran to return to dialogue

With the Security Council expected to seek a vote next week on new sanctions against Iran, France said it would prefer to resolve the issue in talks with Tehran.

world Updated: Feb 23, 2008 11:05 IST

France urged Iran on February 23 to halt sensitive activities to allow talks on its nuclear programme to resume, as the latest report by the UN atomic watchdog gave fresh impetus for new sanctions.

"It is indispensable that Iran complies with all the demands of the international community... And re-establish confidence that its nuclear program is exclusively peaceful in nature, which the (UN nuclear) agency is not in a position today to certify," the French foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on February 22 it had made "quite good progress" in its long-running probe into Iran's disputed nuclear drive, but was still not in a position to offer a verdict on Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

In a confidential new report, the UN agency complained that Tehran was continuing to defy UN demands to halt uranium enrichment and had started developing faster and more efficient centrifuges to produce enriched uranium, which can be used to make the fissile material for a bomb.

In order to re-establish the trust of the international community, France said it is necessary for Iran to "suspend enrichment... As demanded by the IAEA's Board of Governors and the (UN) Security Council."

With the Security Council expected to seeks a vote next week on new sanctions against Iran, France said it would prefer to resolve the issue in talks with Tehran.

"Our preference is to move to dialogue and negotiations to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem. We call once again on Iran to comply with its international obligations and finally allow, by suspending its sensitive activities, the opening of negotiations that we have called for," said the French statement.