G8 increases pressure on Iran over nuclear program

Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:26pm EDT
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By Andrew Quinn and David Ljunggren

GATINEAU, Quebec (Reuters) - The world's leading industrial nations called on Tuesday for stronger action against Iran over its nuclear program and the United States said it was confident China would agree on the need for sanctions.

Foreign ministers from the Group of Eight nations urged the international community to take "appropriate and strong steps" to show its resolve over the nuclear program, which Tehran insists is purely peaceful.

Western members of the U.N. Security Council are pushing for a fourth round of sanctions against Iran, which many nations suspect is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

China -- which, as a permanent council member, can veto the move -- has traditionally been cool to the idea of punishing Iran further. Diplomats say Beijing is slowly losing patience but still favors a diplomatic solution.

"I believe we are making progress ... We see a growing awareness on the part of many countries, including China, as to the consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at the end of the meeting in Gatineau, Quebec, just outside Ottawa.

Noting that sanctions were a part of diplomacy, she said Iran had repeatedly shown an unwillingness to fulfill its international obligations over the last 15 months.

"That's the basis on which I express my optimism that we're going to have a consensus reached in the Security Council," Clinton told a news conference.

Turkey, a nonpermanent member of the Security Council, said on Monday it did not favor sanctions. Brazil, which also has a revolving seat on the council, wants a diplomatic solution.   Continued...