Chirac seeks 'resolution with teeth' on Iran

Paris - French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Sunday for a United Nations resolution that would legally bind Iran to freeze all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

The two leaders agreed in a telephone conversation that the UN Security Council must adopt "a resolution making obligatory the requests of the IAEA, notably the suspension of uranium enrichment", the French president's office said in a statement.

Their call came on the eve of a meeting in New York of the foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, where they will try to thrash out an agreement on a resolution on Iran.

Security Council permanent members France and Britain, with the support of the United States, have introduced a resolution that invokes Chapter Seven of the UN Charter that would legally require Iran to freeze all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

Chapter Seven can authorise economic sanctions or military action as a last resort.

The other two permanent members of the council, China and Russia, object to the draft's reference to Chapter Seven and its suggestion that the Iranian nuclear programme constitutes a threat to international peace and security.

Western powers suspect Iran is using its civilian atomic programme to hide efforts to develop nuclear weapons. But Iran insists that its aims are peaceful and claims it has the right to pursue uranium enrichment as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iran remains defiant against calls for it to stop enriching uranium. It vowed Sunday it would refuse to comply with any UN Security Council demand to halt its nuclear programme and warned the crisis was heading toward a "confrontation". - Sapa-AFP

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