France to seek new nuclear sanctions on Iran


France will look to impose new sanctions on Iran if it fails to halt nuclear enrichment work, the French foreign ministry said today after the United Nations decided not to inflict further penalties on Tehran.

The UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution yesterday that again ordered Iran to "comply fully and without delay" to demands it stop enrichment, but introduced none of the new sanctions that Washington and its allies had sought.

The French foreign ministry said it would carry on working with its international partners to try to persuade Iran to open negotiations.

"France also reaffirms its determination to work with its partners on new sanctions to increase pressure on Iran if it continues to ignore its international obligations," it said.

The director of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, was quoted as saying last week that Iran was on its way to mastering technology that would enable it to build atomic bombs, if it so chose.

Iran says its uranium-enrichment programme is only for civilian purposes - electricity generation - but is under IAEA investigation and UN sanctions over past undeclared activity and failure to prove its intentions are wholly peaceful.

France and its Western allies had sought a UN resolution that imposed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran.

Russia and China gave reluctant backing to three previous sanctions resolutions that included asset freezes and travel bans on specific Iranian individuals and companies, but refused to approve any further tightening of the screws.