Statement by Ministry Spokesperson on Referral to UNSC (Excerpts)

March 10, 2006

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Q - The Iranian matter has been transferred to the Security Council. Can you review the discussions that have already taken place at the Security Council, the P5 meeting? According to France, what are the sequences in this dossier?

First, a question of language. I'm often hearing about a transfer to the Security Council, which is both correct and incorrect. A report was submitted to the Security Council. In fact, first there was an initial letter written by Mr. elBaradei on February 4. As soon as the Board of Governors passed a resolution, Mr. elBaradei sent an initial letter to the UN.

Then, after the last Board of Governors meeting, a new report will be drafted by the IAEA.

The word "transfer" gives the impression that the matter is leaving the IAEA to go to the UN Security Council. As we've always said and repeated on several occasions, that isn't how things should be seen. The Security Council is intervening to strengthen the IAEA's political authority. The minister repeated that this morning, so let's be precise in the language we use here.

Indeed, discussions are under way in New York. There are different formats-the P5, but also other formats. I just wanted to note that we French want to continue to involve Germany in all these discussions. Germany is not in the Security Council but it is in the EU3, and we French want to ensure very close cooperation with Germany in this matter, including in New York.

So all these discussions are under way, and there will no doubt be a Security Council meeting soon. I can't predict the result of that meeting, but as you know-as various sources have indicated-we are considering the idea of a text that sends a very strong message to Iran from the Security Council and the international community.

You ask about a timetable. Quite honestly, I can't answer you today. It will depend on our consultations and our various positions.

Q - I see that the Americans are more definite than you. They are already saying that there will be a presidential statement, as well as a deadline given to the Iranians for complying with IAEA prescriptions. Are you aware of that? Is that in keeping with your positions?

In this matter, as the minister noted this morning, we hope to move ahead while preserving the unity of the international community. And no one today can say what the result will be, because we have to work together. Certain ideas are circulating, ideas about a presidential statement, but we can't guarantee that there will be one in the end. Certain ideas are also circulating with respect to giving Iran a certain deadline to meet Security Council demands, but there too, I can't guarantee what the outcome of the Security Council meeting will be.

As the minister reiterated this morning, our concern is specifically to work with the Russians, the Chinese and the other members of the Security Council.

Q - I think that France's former ambassador to Iran said he didn't think it would be so bad for Iran to maintain a small research and enrichment unit. Did someone whisper that in his ear? Does that correspond to your vision of things?

As you yourself say, he is a former ambassador and no longer active. I have the greatest respect for him, but in no case is he expressing an official French position.

Q - This morning, the minister said that sending the matter to the Security Council is not punitive. Does that mean you are ruling out sanctions at this stage?

As the minister noted, the objective is a political one. We must convince the Iranians to return to the negotiating table. We want to exert political pressure on the Iranians, pressure by the UN Security Council. That's where we are at this stage, and you will have noted that several countries are saying the same thing. There's no question of sanctions at this stage.