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France calls for tighter Iran sanctions

Sept. 4, 2012 at 6:30 AM   |   Comments

PARIS, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- France is calling for further sanctions against Iran following the release of a report claiming Tehran is continuing to add to its uranium enrichment program.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Vincent Floreani said Friday that last week's report from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran's activities at its Fordow fuel enrichment plant and moves to block international access to a Tehran-area military base are "disturbing."

The restricted report, issued by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, contended Iran has more than doubled the number of uranium enrichment centrifuges at its deep underground Fordow facility from 1,064 in May to 2,140 last month.

However, the new centrifuges have yet to become operational, the report said.

The IAEA report also claimed that because Iran has blocked access to the Parchin military base outside Tehran, it was unable to investigate intelligence indicating the base had been used as a scene for test explosions related to the development of nuclear weapons.

The Parchin site may have been "cleaned up" in the interim to frustrate inspectors, the IAEA has claimed.

French President Francoise Hollande on Aug. 27 reiterated that Iran must not be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon and hinted at further sanctions, while Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius Friday told a French broadcaster of a need to "strengthen sanctions" against Iran until Tehran makes "gestures" proving it isn't pursuing any military nuclear aims.

Floreani echoed their warnings.

"As President Hollande indicated ... and (Fabius) reaffirmed this morning, we will assume our responsibility to strengthen the sanctions against Iran until it changes its stance and complies with international law," he said.

France "condemns the activities being carried out by Iran at the Parchin site, which led the (IAEA) to conclude that its ability to verify disturbing information 'has been compromised' and that its ability to 'conduct effective verification will be significantly hampered' if it ever gains access to the site," the French spokesman said.

He added the installation of "a significant number of new centrifuges at the Fordow plant is also a cause for concern," while Iran continues to enrich uranium at low levels "in defiance of its obligations.

"We again urge Iran to make concrete gestures to show its willingness to meet the demands of the international community, to cooperate fully and without delay with the IAEA in order to shed light on the unresolved issues and to put an end to the activities that compromise the agency's work," Floreani said.

Iran has long claimed its nuclear enrichment activities have no military implications, while France and other Western nations contend they are meant to produce a nuclear weapon.

Long-standing talks between the IAEA and Iranian officials to "fill in the gaps" in its knowledge on the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program broke down last week.

Senior Iranian Member of Parliament Jalil Jafari told the Fars News Agency Sunday international inspectors have no authority to inspect the Parchin military base.

"In one of the clauses of the report, the issue of inspecting the Parchin site has been stated once again," he said. "But the point that should be taken into consideration is that no nuclear activity has been carried out at the Parchin site and the Parchin site is a military site."

Permission to inspect military centers hasn't been granted to IAEA inspectors under any of the articles of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Jafari said.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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