The European Union is drafting a new round of sanctions on Iran, the French and German foreign ministers announced on Friday, lamenting the lack of progress in negotiations over the Middle Eastern country's nuclear program.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the new restrictive measures would target "financial, commercial and oil aspects." Something concrete should be ready in time for the next United Nations General Assembly in 10 days, he said. while German's Guido Westerwelle spoke of adopting the sanctions around October 15.
"The negotiations are treading water," Fabius told reporters after meeting with his EU counterparts at an informal gathering in Cyprus. An Iran with nuclear weapons is an "unacceptable, extremely dangerous" prospect, he added.
Westerwelle said he is "very worried about the lack of progress in the nuclear negotiations," stating that "any talks and negotiations that only amount to a delay" will be unacceptable. We will not accept a nuclear arming of Iran."
Westerwelle told Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting that "Sanctions are necessary and soon. I can't see there is really a constructive will on the Iranian side for substantial talks."
"If they will not come back to the table, then probably the next round is necessary. This is not something for next year, we are talking about next weeks," he said.
The comments came as Canada unexpectedly closed its embassy in Tehran and said it was expelling all Iranian diplomats, describing the country's regime as "the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today."
British Foreign Minister William Hague said the EU should step up its sanctions on Iran, which he argued were "having a serious impact." They include a recently instituted oil embargo.
"It is vital that this issue is confronted and dealt with, but far better to do so in a peaceful way, through sanctions but also negotiations," he told reporters at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Paphos, Cyprus.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton - who has conducted the negotiations with Tehran on behalf of Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - said she last spoke with her Iranian counterpart "two or three weeks ago."
The two sides last held a face-to-face negotiating session in June. Ashton described the last conversation as "long [and[ substantive," saying that she had urged Iran "to look very carefully" at the offer put forward by the international community.
Tehran insists that its nuclear program is of a peaceful nature.
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