PARIS (AFP) -French President Jacques Chirac has urged world powers not to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme, at the same time calling on Tehran to give up uranium enrichment.
“First we have to find an agenda for negotiation, then engage the negotiation and during that negotiation I propose that on the one hand the six refrain from referring the issue to the Security Council and that Iran renounce during the negotiation the enrichment of uranium,” he said.
The six nations running talks with Tehran are the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany.
It was the first time a European leader has clearly stated that the suspension of uranium enrichment is not a “precondition” for opening talks on the nuclear dossier.
Chirac indicated that the suspension should come during rather than before negotiations.
“We can find solutions via dialogue,” said Chirac who heads later to New York for the UN’s General Assembly.
Iran’s nuclear programme will be at the centre of discussions on the sidelines of the assembly, with the aim of obtaining an end to uranium enrichment or failing that a consensus on possible sanctions.
Chirac said that he was “never a supporter of sanctions” and had “never noticed that sanctions are effective.” However he added that he “did not mean that we must not have sanctions — which if it comes to it must be moderate and well-adapted.”
The US is preparing a list of possible sanctions — such as travel bans and economic measures — to take if Iran refuses to suspend enrichment of uranium. However Beijing and Moscow are reluctant to follow the sanctions path.
Asked about the attitude of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Chirac said he “condemned in the clearest possible way the Iranian president’s systematically anti-Israeli remarks.”
On a possible meeting with Ahmadinejad, Chirac said that “nothing is planned” and “the conditions are not in place for a personal dialogue, given the Iranian president’s comments concerning a country in the region.”
World powers suspect Iran of trying to develop a nuclear weapon, though Tehran insists its programme is for purely civilian use.