The six world powers in charge of drafting a sanctions package against Iran have failed to reach agreement at talks in Paris. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the discussions would continue over the next few days between the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany. Russia and China believe tough sanctions would be counter-productive and are dragging their heels. Moscow says Tehran’s nuclear programme is not a proven threat to world peace and it is generally acknowledged that China follows the Kremlin’s lead. However, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated support for limited measures aimed at preventing the Iran from being supplied with raw material.
Iran insists its uranium enrichment programme is for producing electricity, but western powers maintain it is a cover for developing atomic weapons. Iran has directly indicated for the first time that diplomatic relations will suffer if countries try to block its nuclear programme. Speaking at a rally in the north of the country, President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad said he will consider it an act of enmity if France, Britain and Germany vote in favour of sanctions.