France accuses Iran of shunning nuclear dialogue

© AFP Eric Feferberg

PARIS (AFP) – France again accused Iran on Tuesday of shunning dialogue on its nuclear programme, raising the pressure on the Islamic Republic as key powers push for more sanctions.

“It takes two to have a dialogue,” French foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero told reporters.

“Up to now, we have seen that rather than a dialogue, it has been more like a monologue or soliloquy” by Iran, he complained, citing a string of recent announcements by Iran on its uranium enrichment activities.

“It makes you dizzy. There is a new declaration almost every day.”

Six major powers on Wednesday wrapped up talks at the United Nations on fresh UN sanctions against Iran. Ambassadors at the meeting described it as “constructive”.

The meeting brought together envoys from the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — plus Germany.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy meanwhile discussed Iran with EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton at their first bilateral meeting since Ashton took up the newly-created post this year.

Ashton branded Iran “the number one challenge today for world security”, a source at the Elysee presidential palace said, after their meeting.

France is pushing for a fresh set of UN sanctions against Iran, whom they suspect of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear programme is aimed at producing energy for civilian use.

Sarkozy offered Ashton France’s “full support” for her mission as the EU’s top foreign and security representative.