Officials from Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States would meet to discuss the next steps to be taken in response to Iran's defiance of the UN Security Council's demand to suspend uranium enrichment, a French foreign ministry spokesman said in Paris on Thursday.
Citing Wednesday's briefing to the European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Committee by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, Jean-Baptiste Mattei said Iran had continued to reject the demand to halt uranium enrichment-related activities.
The six nations would discuss the results of Solana's talks with Iran and the consultations should proceed in the spirit of resolution 1696 the Security Council adopted in August, the spokesman said.
Under the resolution, he noted, if Iran sticks to its defiant position on the issue of uranium enrichment, relevant measures should be taken in accordance with Article 41 of the UN Charter.
The UN Charter Article 41 authorizes the council to take punitive measures, such as applying travel, economic and diplomatic sanctions, in order to ensure that its resolutions be implemented.
The six countries would likely discuss the possibility of reactivating certain procedures in the Security Council, but the details of any measures to be taken against Iran should be left to the 15-nation council to decide, Mattei said.
He reiterated that France favored taking "progressive, appropriate and reversible" actions against Iran, with the aim to "persuade Iran to cooperate with the international community."
Enrichment of uranium is at the core of the dispute over Iran's nuclear program. The process can be used to make nuclear fuel and, in highly enriched form, the explosive core of an atomic bomb. Tehran insists its nuclear program is solely for peaceful energy needs.
The UN Security Council adopted a resolution in late July, urging Tehran to suspend, by Aug. 31, all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development.
Solana said on Wednesday that he had been engaged in talks with the Iranian authorities for four months, aiming to clarify whether a negotiation between Iran and the six countries could start on the basis of a June proposal.
"We have reached common ground on quite a number of aspects. But we haven't agreed on what is a key point: the suspension (of uranium enrichment). So far, up to today, Iran has made no commitment to suspend," he told the EU Foreign Affairs Committee.
The six countries have offered Iran a package that included political, economic and nuclear technology incentives in return for Iran's suspension of uranium enrichment, but it has repeatedly refused to halt its enrichment program.
(Xinhua News Agency October 6, 2006)