France calls for more sanctions against Iran, China resists
France has urged new UN sanctions against Iran following the latest IAEA report saying Tehran had not halted its uranium enrichment program, but the proposal ran into immediate opposition from China, RIA Novosti reported.
"We have no choice other than to work in the days and weeks to come toward a new Security Council sanctions resolution," French Foreign Ministry spokesman Eric Chevallier said Tuesday.
The United States earlier issued a similar call for new sanctions against Tehran.
The IAEA director general said Monday that Iran had increased the number of its uranium enrichment centrifuges from 3,300 to 3,820 and that work was under way to install another 2,000 at the Natanz enrichment plant.
Chevallier described the report as "very worrisome."
However, France's push for more sanctions was opposed by China.
"Sanctions are not an option in dealing with this problem. We believe that the best way of resolving outstanding issues is through peaceful dialogue and negotiations," a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.
Iran is currently under three sets of relatively mild UN Security Council sanctions for defying demands to halt uranium enrichment, which it says it needs purely for electricity generation despite Western accusations that the program is geared toward weapon production.
The United States and Israel have consistently refused to rule out the possibility of military action against Iran over its refusal to halt its nuclear program, but Iran scoffed Tuesday at the threats.
"The Zionist regime lacks the diplomatic, economic and social capability to launch a wide-scale war," General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the Iranian president's senior military advisor, said in response to threats by Israel to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
"There is no doubt that the Americans, who are stuck in Afghanistan, Iraq and Georgia, will not open a fourth front," he added, referring to a possible attack on Iran.