Chirac urges Iran to renew nuclear freeze

French president warns of possible U.N. sanctions

August 30, 2005|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

PARIS - President Jacques Chirac of France warned Iran yesterday that it would face censure by the United Nations Security Council if it did not reinstate a freeze on sensitive nuclear activities under an accord reached in Paris last November.

In his annual speech to France's ambassadors at the Elysee Palace, Chirac made clear that he was losing his patience with Iran, even as he urged its leaders to accept an offer of incentives by France, Britain and Germany in exchange for an indefinite freeze of its uranium conversion and enrichment activities.

"I call on the Iranian authorities to choose the path of cooperation and confidence by carefully examining this offer and resuming their commitment to suspend activities related to the production of fissile materials," Chirac said. "There is room for dialogue and negotiation. We call on Iran's spirit of responsibility to restore cooperation and confidence, failing which, the Security Council will have no choice but to take up the issue."

France's new foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, has given Iran a similar ultimatum, but this is the first time that Chirac has clearly stated that Iran would face possible censure or sanctions in the Security Council if it did not reinstate its freeze on nuclear activities.

In taking such a tough line, Chirac sends a clear signal to Iran's newly elected conservative president that France has moved closer to the position of the United States, which has long held that Iran's case belongs in the Security Council.

The Iran case has become more urgent since Iran's resumption of uranium conversion at its plant in Isfahan this month and the breakdown of talks with the three European countries, under the auspices of the European Union.

Iran also rejected the European offer for a range of economic, political, security and technological incentives in exchange for permanently freezing its programs to produce enriched uranium, which can be used for either peaceful nuclear energy or in weapons programs.

Iran has declared correctly that its nuclear activities are allowed under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but Chirac has long made clear in conversations with world leaders, including President Bush, that he believes that Iran is intent on developing nuclear weapons.

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