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France urges Iran to scrap nuclear program to avoid new sanctions

By RIA Novosti,

Moscow : France hopes that Iran will abandon its nuclear program and that further sanctions against it can be avoided, the French foreign minister said on Thursday.
In an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio, Bernard Kouchner said he had met with Iranian representatives last week and his impression was that “the Iranians are reluctant to discuss the nuclear issue” and that they could be pursuing a military program.

Nevertheless, he said “we hope to avoid sanctions against Iran.”

“At this stage we are only talking about sanctions and hope that Iran will abandon its military program,” said Kouchner, who is in Moscow to attend a meeting of the Russian-French security cooperation council.

Western powers suspect Iran of attempting to build nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is aimed at generating peaceful civilian energy.

The Iran-6 group of international mediators (Russia, Britain, China, France, Germany and the U.S.) is to meet in Geneva later on Thursday for talks with Tehran.

Last week, Iran notified the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of a second Iranian enrichment facility some 100 km to the south of the capital. Western nations have called for harsher sanctions against the Islamic republic. The U.S. and Britain have also refused to rule out military action.

Iran is under three sets of UN Security Council sanctions over refusal to halt uranium enrichment, needed both for electricity generation and weapons production.

As tensions grow, Iran’s national media said on Monday the country had test launched the longest-range missile in its arsenal, a Sajjil surface-to-surface missile with a range of up to 2,000-2,500 kilometers, capable of striking Israel and parts of Europe.