France holds open chance of diplomatic verdict with Tehran

France said Tuesday that the international community, which is edging toward referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program, could reverse course if Tehran cooperates. "For us, the diplomatic path is not closed," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei. Earlier Tuesday, Iran's top nuclear negotiator had said that referral to the Security Council would mean the "end of diplomacy." France and the other four permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, along with Germany, agreed in London on Tuesday that Iran should be taken before the powerful body over its disputed nuclear program.

China and Russia, longtime allies and trading partners of Iran, signed up to a statement that calls on the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to transfer the Iran dossier to the Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions.

However, participants in the London talks said the Security Council should wait until March to take up the Iran case, after a formal report from the atomic agency on Tehran's activities.

The IAEA meets in Vienna on Thursday.

The process of taking Tehran to the Security Council is "gradual, it is progressive and it is reversible too, if Iran makes the gestures we're waiting for," Mattei said.

Europe and the United States, which suspect Iran of seeking nuclear weapons and sponsoring terrorism, demand that Iran halt uranium enrichment activities for negotiations on its nuclear program to resume.

"All that was being done (in London) was with the goal of reinforcing the probability that there is a diplomatic way out," Mattei said.

He also said that the thrust of the London agreement was not to immediately refer Iran to the Security Council but to persuade the Security Council to reinforce the authority of the IAEA.

France will work to bring as many countries on the IAEA's 35-member board to agreement before Thursday's meeting, Mattei said, "so that this position can be shared in a wider way", reports the AP.

D.M.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team