BERLIN, Germany — Foreign Minister Guide Westerwelle on Friday called for fresh European Union sanctions on Iran in the "next weeks," voicing skepticism to Reuters over Tehran's professed desire for dialogue on the seemingly interminable nuclear issue.
The Islamic Republic insists its nuclear program is purely for civilian purposes, but Western countries fear it is being used to make a bomb. They have ratcheted up economic pressure on the country in recent months, including a crippling EU oil embargo that took effect on July 1.
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The German FM's comments to Reuters came in tandem with those by British Foreign Secretary William Hague, who insisted Friday on the need "to increase the pressure on Iran, to intensify sanctions, to add further to the EU sanctions," according to Agence-France Press.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton is expected to report to foreign ministers on negotiations held in late August between EU officials and Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. "I have urged Iran to look very carefully at the proposals that have been put forward," Ashton said, according to AFP.
But some ministers aren't willing to wait. "Sanctions are necessary and soon. I can't see there is really a constructive will on the Iranian side for substantial talks," Westerwelle told Reuters today, where he was meeting other EU foreign ministers in Cyprus.
"If they will not come back to the table, then probably the next round is necessary," he said. "This is not something for next year, we are talking about next weeks."