PARIS (AFP) -France is ready to renew dialogue with Iran on ending the standoff over its nuclear program but will continue to insist that Tehran suspend uranium enrichment, Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said.
“The Iranian authorities say they are open to dialogue and ready to resume discussions,” Douste-Blazy told a meeting of French ambassadors.
“Without abandoning the demand to suspend sensitive activities, France is also ready to renew dialogue.
“But it must be a clear, concrete and responsible dialogue,” he said Tuesday. “We want this dialogue quickly, with a desire for serious discussion and with the concern to finally find solutions to the Iranian nuclear problem.”
The UN Security Council has given Iran until August 31 to suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities — which Tehran says is part of a civilian nuclear programme — or face the threat of sanctions.
A package of incentives backed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, France, Britain, Russia and China — plus Germany is dependent on Tehran first agreeing to suspend enrichment.
Few details have emerged of Iran’s response to the package but the United States has already warned it would lead moves to impose sanctions if the reply fell short of Security Council demands.
“At the moment, Tehran’s response to proposals from the international community is not satisfactory,” Douste-Blazy said.
“It remains ambiguous and seems to continue to ignore the essential question of sensitive nuclear activities, that is to say enrichment and reprocessing.
“This move is essential to re-establish confidence between all the parties to the negotiations,” he told the ambassadors at their annual meeting in Paris.
Uranium enrichment can produce the fuel for the generation of nuclear power, or in extended form can be the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
In a foreign policy speech on Monday, French President Jacques Chirac said Iran, as a “major, responsible country”, must “take the necessary steps in order to create the conditions for trust.”
“Iran will not find security by developing clandestine programmes, but by becoming fully part of the international community,” he said.
The same day Douste-Blazy and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier echoed Chriac’s call in a meeting in Paris, where the French foreign minister’s office said they agreed “it is necessary to allow for the possibility of dialogue with the Iranians”.
Western countries, led by the US, believe Iran wants to build nuclear weapons, but the Islamic republic insists it only wants to develop civilian nuclear power and has the right to master the required technology.