France's Kouchner: Give Iran dialogue "last chance"

Mon Nov 30, 2009 4:33am EST
 
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PARIS (Reuters) - Iran should be given a "last chance" in talks over its atomic program, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said after the Islamic Republic announced plans for ten more uranium enrichment plans.

Asked in an interview with Le Figaro newspaper published on Monday whether tougher U.N. sanctions on Iran would be a true deterrent, Kouchner said, "Let's give dialogue a last chance and give the necessary space to the European Union which, from January 1 2010, will finally be in working order."

The EU this month strengthened its regulatory and law-making powers and named new European Commission members, a president and foreign policy chief.

Iran unveiled the plans to build the new plants two days after the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, rebuked it for secretly building a second uranium enrichment plant in a mountain bunker.

"Why did Iran announce 10 new uranium enrichment sites (on Sunday) when it has only one nuclear plant to burn this fuel?" said Kouchner.

"The fact that Iran persists in ignoring the demands of a big independent agency like the IAEA, that's very dangerous."

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has said Iran should be given until the end of the year to accept international terms for talks over its nuclear ambitions or face further sanctions.

Iran says its atomic energy program is purely for peaceful purposes, aimed at generating electricity. The West fears it has clandestine plans to build nuclear bombs, a charge Iran denies.

(Reporting by Sophie Hardach; Editing by Louise Ireland)