France urges sanctions moves to pressure Iran

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PARIS, Oct 2 (Reuters) French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said today the West must continue to work on sanctions if it is to be taken seriously by Iran, even as talks continue to resolve a stand-off over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Kouchner told Europe 1 radio that the situation in Iran was dangerous and that a nuclear-armed Iran would make the situation in the Middle East even more complicated.

''While the European dialogue continues...we have to work on sanctions so as to be taken seriously,'' Kouchner said.

''Is that the right solution? It's part of the solution.

Should we go further one day? It's possible,'' he said. He did not elaborate.

Six world powers agreed on Friday to delay a vote on tougher UN sanctions on Iran until late November at the earliest, to wait for reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and European Union negotiator Javier Solana.

Foreign ministers of the United States, Russia, China, Germany, France and Britain asked Solana to hold more talks with Iran's nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, while the IAEA tries to clear up doubts about past Iranian nuclear activities.

The decision to make another stab at European Union-led diplomacy while brandishing the threat of fresh sanctions if it fails reflected a compromise among the major powers.

France has been pushing for tougher sanctions and Kouchner said last Friday he would write to France's European Union partners calling for a discussion on European sanctions on Iran at the next foreign ministers meeting on October 15.

The West suspects Iran is seeking to build a nuclear bomb, a charge Tehran denies. It says its nuclear programme aims to provide electricity for its power hungry economy.

''Nothing is more dangerous than the situation in Iran,'' Kouchner said, adding that it was playing an influential role in Iraq and had influence in the Middle East.

''All that makes it a terribly, terrible dangerous place, the most dangerous in the world. If, on top of that, an Iranian bomb is added in, I think it's very difficult,'' he said.

REUTERS SZ HS1344

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