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Paris backs ‘new sanctions’ on Iran: French FM

PARIS  (AFP) – French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said on Thursday that France backs the rapid adoption of "new sanctions" against Iran if it maintains its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.

"There is still time for Iran to suspend its enrichment-linked activities. Otherwise, as foreseen by Resolution 1747, we will have no choice but to take things forward at the Security Council," he said in a statement released in Paris.

"If that is the case, I hope that we can rapidly adopt new sanctions that will show Iran that the path it has chosen is unacceptable and will only drive it into growing isolation," said Kouchner, who was on a visit to Lebanon.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday defied threats of further sanctions after the UN nuclear watchdog said Tehran was defying Security Council demands to stop enriching uranium and is expanding the work.

Immediately after the report was published, the United States urged new sanctions against Iran, in addition to the two sets of measures agreed by the UN Security Council in December and March over its defiance.

The crux of the standoff is Iran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, a sensitive process as it can be used both to make nuclear fuel and highly enriched uranium for the explosive core of an atomic bomb.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons but the Islamic republic insists it just wants to generate energy for a growing population.