European plans for arms sanctions against Iran are too weak, says US

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The Independent Online

The United States indicated yesterday that it wants tougher sanctions on Iran - for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment - than the measures in a UN resolution drafted by Britain, France and Germany.

European diplomats said the proposed sanctions, which would ban the sale of missile and atomic technology to Iran and end most UN help for its nuclear programmes - are focused in the hope of gaining Russian and Chinese backing. Russia and China have major commercial ties with Iran and could veto any sanctions.

France said yesterday the European draft had been circulated to the permanent Security Council members.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Europe had been left with "no choice". During a speech in Berlin, she said there must be no Iranian nuclear programme.

The US, which has consistently pushed for tough sanctions, indicated the European proposals were too weak. Richard Grenell, spokesman for the US Mission to the UN, said: "We look forward to a full meeting ... where we will obviously have American changes to the proposed European text."

Russia and China have agreed in principle to imposing sanctions but Iran has shrugged off the threat and is reported to have expanded its uranium enrichment programme. According to UN diplomats, Russia wants an exemption from sanctions for the initial plant at Bushehr.

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