The major powers involved in diplomacy with Iran had diverse reactions to the new U.N. report on Tehran’s controversial nuclear program. Russia and China indicated strong opposition to tough new sanctions or other actions that might lead to regime change. Britain, France and Germany called for more sanctions on Iran. The disparity in positions may further complicate efforts to come up with a united plan of action at the U.N. Security Council.
The report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency was released on Nov. 8. The following are recent comments.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov on Nov. 9
"Any additional sanctions against Iran will be seen in the international community as an instrument for regime change in Iran. That approach is unacceptable to us, and the Russian side does not intend to consider such proposals."
Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei on Nov. 8
“China always holds that the Iranian nuclear issue should be properly solved through dialogue and cooperation…The Iranian side should also show flexibility and sincerity.”
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe on Nov. 9
"Convening of the U.N. Security Council is called for…If Iran refuses to conform to the demands of the international community and refuses any serious cooperation, we stand ready to adopt, with other willing countries, sanctions on an unprecedented scale."
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Nov. 9
"If Iran further refuses serious negotiations about its nuclear program, new and strict sanctions will be unavoidable…The way of definitive and broadly applied sanctions is the right way. We reject any discussion of military options."
British Foreign Minister William Hague on Nov. 9
"We are looking at additional measures against the Iranian financial sector, the oil and gas sector, and the designation (on a sanctions list) of further entities and individuals involved with their nuclear program…“We are entering a more dangerous phase. The longer Iran goes on pursuing a nuclear weapons program without responding adequately to calls for negotiations from the rest of us, the greater the risk of a conflict as a result."
Annika Folkeson works for the Center for Conflict Management at the U. S. Institute of Peace.