Statement by Ministry Spokesperson on P5+1 Group Talks in London (Excerpts)

October 6, 2006

[Please note that only the original French text issued by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs may be considered official.]

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Q: There's a meeting on Iran in London today. Who's representing France and what is the French position? Are you ready to proceed to sanctions now?

A: It's the minister, Mr. Douste-Blazy, who is representing France and will participate in the meeting. The meeting is due to be held late afternoon.

Obviously it's the minister who will state the French position, and it's a bit difficult for me to do so in his place. The purpose of the meeting is clearly to bring together the six ministers and listen to Mr. Solana to see where he is in his contacts with Mr. Larijani.

Q: But he's already stated it.

A: Yes, correct, but still it's the first time since these contacts that a meeting has been arranged between Mr. Solana and the six ministers to hear a detailed briefing by Mr. Solana. What he's said so far is that the Iranians have not agreed to suspend enrichment activities. So depending on what he says, the purpose will be to consider the next steps, in the context of resolution 1696 which is absolutely clear. I can't preempt what the ministers will say or decide in the afternoon. In the event the Iranians fail to respond or to respond satisfactorily, resolution 1696 normally provides at that moment for us to go back to the Security Council to consider measures under Article 14 of the Charter.

Q: Yesterday and the day before you spoke of "progressive, proportionate and reversible sanctions"? Proportionate means what? How can it be translated into action?

A: There, too, it's a bit difficult for me to give details since the meeting is being held this afternoon. The minister will hold a press conference in London, and I don't want to anticipate too much what he's going to say. The terms we have used are fairly clear and rather than sanctions we prefer to speak of measures under Article 41. It's a semantic nuance certainly, but which is important. As for the significance of "proportionate"-it will depend on the Iranians' attitude. Depending on their attitude the measures could focus on one or another specific area. To our mind they should be targeted. "Reversible" means, as we've said, that these measures are not an end in themselves. Their purpose is to persuade the Iranians to resume dialogue with the Six. By definition, if measures are taken, they can be withdrawn if the Iranians decide to go back to the table to talk.

I prefer not to say any more since, as I said, the minister is in London and will hold a briefing for the press.

Q: Will there be a decision today?

A: It's always difficult to say ahead of time. If we're going to this meeting it's obviously because we want to preserve the unity of the Six. May I remind you that the Six-party format is not meant to decide on measures, it's a format for having talks with the Iranians, and the Six will assess the consequences of Iran's attitude. We hope that the unity of the Six is preserved and that we can decide together on the next steps.

Q: Who or what is threatening the unity of the Six?

A: It's not threatened by anyone, but we're very committed to it.

Q: Are there disagreements among the Six?

A: We'll see this afternoon; everyone's there and will state their positions.

Q: Will the Russians be there too?

A: It's what I understood.

Q: Mr. Lavrov said yesterday he was against sanctions?

A: We're not going to go into this debate again. A resolution exists-SCR 1696. There was a meeting in Paris, as you'll remember, on July 13, at which the Six issued a statement which envisaged certain steps. The July 12 statement commits the Six, and SCR 1696 commits the Security Council. It's on these bases that we're having talks.

Next, there's the fact that there are different sensitivities--we've already talked about this, it's not necessarily a big secret. But once again what's really important from our point of view is to preserve the unity of the international community in spite of these differences in sensitivity.

Q: Does article 41 refer only to economic sanctions?

A: As I said, the purpose of this afternoon's meeting is to think about the next steps. I don't know what will come out of it. But today we won't be deciding details of measures under Article 41 in that framework. That will have to be done in the Security Council. But we've said all along that we were more favorable to targeted measures.

Q: And article 41 doesn't mention detailed sanctions?

A: Article 41 is part of the Charter. When there is recourse to it, obviously the Security Council is more specific in what measures it's thinking of. This will have to be discussed in due course if the ministers decide this afternoon to return to the Security Council. I can't anticipate what will happen; it will be for them to announce.

I can't tell you at this point what type of measures might be taken, except that we're in favor of measures that are proportionate, progressive, reversible and I'll add targeted.

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