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Proceed step-by-step with Iran: France

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin urged a "step-by-step" approach to resolving Iran's nuclear standoff with the West.

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 09:12 IST

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin urged a "step-by-step" approach to resolving Iran's nuclear standoff with the West, while calling on Tehran to return to "reason" and respect international rules.

"The rules must be respected. We must clearly show the path ahead and from there we will study together the possibilities of bringing Iran back to reason," he said in an appearance on a weekly television and radio show.

He said the international pressure on Iran over its suspect nuclear programme "is not about entering a policy of regime change ... But of managing a problem of nuclear proliferation."

France and the other four permanent members of the UN Security Council are calling on Iran to fully cooperate with the UN atomic watchdog to prove that its nuclear energy programme is not hiding an effort to build nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear research is for peaceful ends.

Asked about possible military intervention, the French Prime Minister said "lessons" had been learnt from the US-led invasion of Iraq and it was necessary to be "demanding, vigilant and firm ... And at the same time responsible".

"There is a series of stages -- we must proceed step-by-step with care that at each stage Iran can give its response," he said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted overwhelmingly on Saturday to report Tehran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme.

Unlike the IAEA, the 15-member Security Council is empowered to slap sanctions on countries in the event of threats to international peace and security.

First Published: Feb 06, 2006 09:12 IST