Diplomacy must be given yet another chance before a decision on sanctions, EU foreign ministers decide, as Solana is sent to Teheran for more talks.
Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed the prevailing sentiment on the Iran sanctions issue among EU foriegn ministers, gathered for an informal session in Lappeenranta, Finland, on 1 and 2 September: “The most important thing is that the international community does not let itself be divided,” Steinmeier said, referring to a potential clash with Russia and China, who want to avoid the sanctions option.
The 31 August deadline has passed, but the answer coming from Teheran needs clarification, ministers believe. Thus, they backed dispatching EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana to Teheran. Solana will meet Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, during the first week of September.
However, prospects of a solution appear bleak, as a meeting between United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran on 3 September failed to produce a breakthrough.
Meanwhile, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister for Economic Affairs, Alireza Sheikh-Attar, suggested that sanctions could backfire: “Putting Iran under sanctions will damage the big countries which consume oil. We have a plan for different scenarios to combat any possible sanctions,” he said.