Iran may get sanctions: Steinmeier

by Reiji Yoshida

If Iran continues its nuclear designs, it may face U.N. Security Council economic sanctions, visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said Tuesday.

The international community will meanwhile still try to explore “diplomatic possibilities” in talks with Iran, he said, adding it “should not lose creativity” in pursuing a diplomatic solution.

Earlier this month, the International Atomic Energy Agency voted to put Iran’s uranium enrichment program before the UNSC.

The resolution “means a direct step toward economic sanctions,” Steinmeier said through a Japanese translator at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo, adding, however, that sanctions were not immediately in the offing.

On behalf of the EU, Germany, Britain and France have been trying to get Tehran to halt its uranium enrichment program, but to no avail.

The nuclear issue is high on Steinmeier’s agenda for his talks with Japanese officials, as Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki plans to visit Japan next week.

Tokyo is expected to tell Mottaki that Iran must stop its enrichment activities.

Before coming to Japan on Monday, Steinmeier was in South Korea to meet his counterpart, Ban Ki Moon. He heads to Beijing Wednesday.

Also Tuesday, Steinmeier paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi and met with Foreign Minister Taro Aso to discuss other international affairs.

Aso said he told Steinmeier that he “highly appreciates” Germany’s efforts to defuse the Iranian nuclear threat.