Iran Nuclear NewsG-8 leaders press Iran to halt uranium enrichment

G-8 leaders press Iran to halt uranium enrichment

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Bloomberg: Group of Eight leaders accused Iran of flouting the international community by pursuing uranium enrichment and warned the Islamic Republic will deepen its diplomatic and economic isolation if the program continues. By James G. Neuger

June 8 (Bloomberg) — Group of Eight leaders accused Iran of flouting the international community by pursuing uranium enrichment and warned the Islamic Republic will deepen its diplomatic and economic isolation if the program continues.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country holds one of the five permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council, said Iran will face tougher penalties if it doesn’t cooperate in negotiations.

“To push the Iranian leaders back to the negotiating table, I think we have to send a firm message and certainly toughen the sanctions,” Sarkozy said in a news conference at the close of the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany.

Iran is moving ahead with uranium enrichment, undeterred by UN sanctions that were passed in December and strengthened in March. Debate over new penalties is under way after Iran skipped last month’s deadline to halt enrichment, which can be used for civilian power plants as well as nuclear weapons.

In their joint statement, the G-8 leaders said “Iran has so far failed to meet its obligations” under three United Nations resolutions, and the G-8 “will support adopting further measures, should Iran refuse to comply with its obligations.”

Lacking `Clear Strategy’

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi suggested the G-8 still lacks a firm position on the next steps to take on Iran.

“We’re heading toward new sanctions in the Security Council. I asked what will happen afterward,” he said at a news conference at the conclusion of the summit. “There was no conclusion. I’m very worried about the lack of a clear strategy on Iran.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the host for this year’s summit, said any approach to dealing with Iran’s nuclear program “will remain diplomatic.”

The G-8 — the U.S., Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Canada and Russia — repeated an offer of closer economic ties once Iran provides proof that it is not pursuing a nuclear weapons capability.

“International confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program would permit a completely new chapter to be opened in our relations with Iran not only in the nuclear but also more broadly in the political, economic and technological fields,” the statement said.

Sanctions

The last set of sanctions included a freezing of assets of a state-owned Iranian bank, limits on arms sales and penalties on some military commanders.

Iran, which holds the world’s second-biggest oil and natural gas reserves after Saudi Arabia, says its nuclear development is for the civilian energy industry. The U.S. and European governments say they suspect Iran’s attempts to enrich uranium is leading to development of an atomic bomb.

Separately, the G-8 issued a warning to North Korea, which test-fired two short-range missiles yesterday. The leaders called on North Korea “strictly to refrain from any further nuclear test or missile launch, and to abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs.”

The government in Pyongyang missed an April 13 deadline to start dismantling its nuclear weapons program set under an agreement with the U.S., China, Japan, South Korea and Russia.

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