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G8 leaders: Growing momentum for Iran nuclear sanctions

At a G8 meeting in Canada, officials said they felt growing momentum for action against Tehran. In addition to Iran nuclear sanctions, they are considering a UN Security Council resolution.

By Staff writer / March 30, 2010

(l.-r.) Canada's Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon listens to a question with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Japan's Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada during the G8 foreign ministers' meeting in Canada, Tuesday. Leaders at the G8 came closer to agreeing on Iran nuclear sanctions.

Chris Wattie/Reuters

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Istanbul, Turkey

Foreign ministers at the G8 meeting in Canada on Tuesday focused on Iran nuclear ambitions and the actions of two capitals very far away.

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At the top of the agenda for the world's eight leading industrial nations was building consensus to impose more United Nations sanctions on Tehran – nearly 6,000 miles away from the summit venue near Ottawa – unless Iran resolves outstanding questions about possible weapons-related work.

But that would depend on decisions made by China – its leaders in Beijing some 6,500 miles away in the opposite direction, who are not in the exclusive G8 club but have veto power in the UN Security Council.

“Tehran must halt its nuclear enrichment activities and engage in peaceful dialogue,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the foreign ministers on Tuesday.

“There is much at stake,” Mr. Harper said. “If nuclear proliferation leads to the use of nuclear weapons, whether by states or non-state actors, then no matter where the bombs are set off, the catastrophe will be felt around the world.”

A draft of the final communique called for “appropriate and strong steps” over Iran’s nuclear work, adding that the G8 remained willing to talk to Tehran, Reuters reported. In addition to the US, the G8 includes Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Russia.

Growing momentum against Iran

Previous Security Council resolutions demand that Iran stop all nuclear enrichment activities. But Iran says that as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), it has a right to nuclear energy, is expanding its efforts, and dismisses claims that it wants an atomic bomb.

Could China be persuaded to back a fourth round of UN sanctions against a key trading partner? Officials at the G8 meeting, which opened Monday, said they felt momentum growing against Iran – and that China was coming around.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday that “China will be involved” in the “hard work of trying to come up with a Security Council resolution” against Iran.

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