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Britain, US and France push for timetable to make Iran reveal atom secrets
By Anton La Guardia in Vienna
Britain, America and France were pushing last night for Iran to be given a quick timetable to come clean about its nuclear programme or face "targeted" United Nations sanctions.
Western countries have long sought to reassure sceptics that they only want a "gradual" process of building up pressure on Teheran to co-operate fully with nuclear inspectors. But at a meeting last night with Russia and China, the three western members of the UN Security Council were pushing for Iran to be given just a few weeks to comply.
As President George W. Bush said Iran posed a "grave national security concern", the five permanent Security Council members discussed a joint British-French draft "presidential statement", telling international nuclear inspectors to report within 14 days on Iran's co-operation. British officials have said they could accept a 30-day deadline. But one senior western source said: "We are eager to move forward. This is a matter of weeks, not months. "
If Iran does not comply with this political exhortation, the next step would be a formal resolution making full co-operation mandatory and strengthening the powers of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
This could be followed by "targeted sanctions" if Teheran still refuses to co-operate.
America and European countries are playing down talk of sanctions, for fear of alienating Russia, China and developing countries.
Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, hoped a diplomatic solution would be found, and would not discuss sanctions.
Teheran has so far responded defiantly to the moves, with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying Iran would not be "bullied".
9 March 2006: Teheran threatens to inflict 'harm and pain' on US over nuclear row
8 March 2006: We won't let Iran go nuclear, warns Cheney
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