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Bush, EU warn Iran of more sanctions over nuclear issue

Tehran is urged to suspend enrichment and allow inspections.

June 11, 2008|From the Washington Post

KRANJ, SLOVENIA — President Bush and European Union leaders threatened Iran on Tuesday with new financial sanctions unless the country curbs its nuclear ambitions and opens facilities to international inspection.

After a two-hour meeting that also touched on other issues, Bush and his European counterparts indicated that they were prepared to go beyond current United Nations sanctions to try to ensure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.

The Islamic Republic insists that its nuclear research and facilities are solely for peaceful purposes, but it has stymied international inspectors trying to verify the extent and nature of its program.

"Now is the time for there to be strong diplomacy," Bush said after the meeting, appearing with Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. "They can either face isolation, or they can have better relations with all of us. We'll find new sanctions if need be."

A statement from the United States and the 27-nation European Union said Iran must undertake a "full and verifiable" suspension of its uranium enrichment program and disclose any prior weapons- related work to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Although it is suspected that Iran halted work on nuclear weapons several years ago, the inability of the IAEA to inspect its operations has left doubts about Tehran's intentions as it continues to expand and improve its uranium enrichment. Enriched uranium can be used for both nuclear energy and weapons, depending on the level of processing.

Unless those obligations are met, the statement said, the United States and EU are prepared "to supplement" existing U.N. sanctions with "additional measures."

The communique indicated that the focus would be on Iran's financial system "to ensure Iranian banks cannot abuse the international banking system to support proliferation and terrorism."

Neither Jansa nor Barroso made specific remarks about Iran. But a White House release said the group had agreed to "additional measures" against the country.

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