Last updated: 17 May, 2013

France wants “decisive sanctions” against Iran

The United States and European nations should take “decisive sanctions” against Iran over its controversial nuclear program, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Friday.

“Given the inflexibility of Iran’s position, this dual, sanctions-dialogue approach should allow us to increase pressure on Iran in the coming months as the Iranian uranium enrichment program continues to expand in quantity and quality,” Le Drian said.

“More than ever we have a responsibility to defeat this strategy of procrastination and concealment to ensure nuclear non-proliferation,” he added during a talk at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace think tank.

“This responsibility justifies the strong commitment of ours, alongside our American allies and European partners, for the implementation of decisive sanctions.”

The United Nations and Western nations have imposed a range of sanctions on Iran for several years in an effort to deter Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian program to develop nuclear energy.

Le Drian also met the head of the US Senate Armed Services Committee, Carl Levin, during his visit to Washington, where Syrian war was discussed.

Levin, who has urged President Barack Obama to consider pursuing limited military options against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, later said Le Drian had not dismissed the possibility out of hand.

France may consider military options, but only if a European embargo on arms was lifted, Levin said.

“It was not something which he said they would favor, but it’s also something which would be at least available for consideration if the embargo is lifted,” Levin said.

“I was satisfied that they are moving in the right direction, if they have to lift the embargo, I would think first before they can consider ways of adding military pressure, and they did not say that that’s not a possibility at all, it’s a possibility but it would have to be considered only after the embargo issue is resolved.”

Le Drian said France hoped to see a political solution to the Syrian conflict, but any settlement would have to exclude the ruling Assad family.

Russia and the United States have agreed to revive the Geneva process, the name of an agreement signed in June 2012 between the major powers on a political transition in Syria.

The agreement was never implemented because of ambiguity over the fate of the Syrian president.