European Union member states are ready to impose unilateral sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear programme if the United Nations fails to agree on the issue, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner confirmed Sunday, dpa reported.
EU foreign ministers have hitherto stressed that they would only call for sanctions with the UN's blessing, but recent suggestions that UN veto holders China and Russia could block a decision has led some EU states to call for independent action as a last resort.
Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said that there was "consensus enough" within the EU to launch unilateral sanctions.
That statement is "roughly" correct, "but we have to talk about what kind of sanctions, and first we have to devote our strength and time to get a resolution in the UN Security Council," Kouchner told journalists after informal talks with Stubb and six other top diplomats in the Finnish ski resort of Saariselka.
Nonetheless, if the UN fails, "after that, yes, we'll see" about what sanctions to impose, Kouchner said.
"The general consensus is not to target the people but to target the economy," such as the banking and insurance sectors, he said.
France is a permanent member and veto holder on the security council, alongside Britain, China, Russia and the United States. In recent weeks, China and Russia have questioned whether it would be right to impose sanctions on Iran.
"They believe that it's still possible to get an agreement for the enrichment of uranium ... I don't believe so," Kouchner said.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who also attended the meeting, said that his country opposed any fresh sanctions because the Turks "do not want to have new tension in our region."