France today followed the US and Britain in warning Iran of “severe” new sanctions if it does not stop its uranium enrichment activities. French president Nicolas Sarkozy emphasized lack of trust on Iranian leadership.
“These are the same leaders, in Iran, who tell us that the nuclear program is peaceful and that the elections were honest. Frankly, who believes them?” Sarkozy said in a speech delivered in Paris today [AFP, 26 August].
Yesterday, Britain warned Iran could face another round of sanctions if it did not halt its uranium enrichment program.
“If there is no further progress immediately then I believe the world will have to look at stepping up sanctions against Iran as a matter of priority," British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told reporters in London at a news conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Obama administration has already warned Iran of sanctions against the export of gasoline to the country. Iran imports some 40% of its daily gasoline use. An embargo could severely disrupt its economy.
Ironically, the calls for new and severe sanctions against Iran come at a time that IAEA reports no increase in the number of centrifuges in Natanz, the country’s uranium enrichment plant.
“There has been no increase in the number of centrifuges enriching uranium since the end of May," Reuters quoted a senior Viennese diplomat familiar with the issue. The diplomat said the reason for the slowdown was mainly technical, adding that some of the centrifuges had been taken down for repair and maintenance [Reuters, 25 August].