The Guardian: The British government signalled yesterday the latest round of negotiations with Iran had failed and that it will begin a push within the next fortnight for targeted UN sanctions against Tehran. The Guardian
Ewen MacAskill, diplomatic editor
The British government signalled yesterday the latest round of negotiations with Iran had failed and that it will begin a push within the next fortnight for targeted UN sanctions against Tehran.
Iran has threatened to retaliate if sanctions are imposed. But, crucially, neither Russia nor China, the veto-wielding members of the UN security council, have yet agreed to specific measures.
The British official, talking to journalists in London on condition of anonymity, said Javiar Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, had at the weekend briefed the five permanent members of the security council – the US, Britain, France, China and Russia – plus Germany and reported that Iran had failed to suspend uranium enrichment as the UN had demanded.
Mr Solana, on a visit to Finland yesterday, said a telephone call to Ali Larijani, Iran’s leading nuclear negotiator, yesterday failed to produce any breakthrough.
The British official said the foreign ministers had “agreed these steps should be incremental, they should be proportionate and they should be reversible if the Iranians do take the steps that are required of them”.
Iran has hinted that if sanctions are imposed, it would leave the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which would mean UN inspectors would no longer be able to monitor Iran’s nuclear programme, and that it might close the Straits of Hormuz, a move which would choke off most of the oil supply from the Gulf.
But the official claimed Iranian threats were “exaggerated” and that the rise in Saudi oil production would help offset the drop in supply. The official added that Iran would have mastered the uranium enrichment technology within a year or two.
The US secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice, is scheduled to be in Europe at the end of the week to discuss sanctions with Britain, France and Germany.
Ms Rice said yesterday that the only choice for the international community was sanctions.
Igor Ivanov, the Russian foreign minster, flew to Tehran yesterday to make a renewed attempt at finding a solution.