1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Growing fears

February 19, 2010

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle calls for tough measures and more sanctions against Iran after a report by the UN nuclear watchdog suggested Iran may indeed be working on a nuclear missile.

The Iranian flag and the atomic symbol
A report on Iran's nuclear program has the West worriedImage: AP Graphics

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle insisted on Friday that Iran "has no right to nuclear arms capability." That is why the international community would discuss measures against Iran "including the possibility of further sanctions," he added.

A report by the United Nations nuclear watchdog published earlier on Friday caused concern in Germany and other Western countries.

In unusually blunt language, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report for the first time suggested Iran was actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability, throwing weight behind similar Western suspicions.

Westerwelle stressed that "the patience of the international community is not endless" but he also stressed that "the door (for negotiations) remains open."

The US, Germany and other Western nations have long accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons capabilty and have been pushing to impose tougher sanctions on Iran.

China has so far been cautious about speaking out against Iran. But Westerwelle is confident that China will join the international community on this issue.

"It is my firm belief that China sees the possibility of nuclear armament in Iran as totally unacceptable," he said on Friday.

Earlier government spokesman, Ulrich Wilhelm, said that Iran's "continued defiance towards the IAEA, to UN resolutions and Tehran's dangerous policies in general" were pushing the international community to seek further sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

"The German government is rigorously taking part in this process," Wilhelm told a regular government briefing.

"The report of the IAEA ... confirms the great concerns that the German government has had for a long time about Iran's nuclear program."

Quick denial

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Khamenei denied Iran wanted nuclear armsImage: AP

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has already sought to deny such reports. He told state television on Friday that Iran was not seeking nuclear armament and that the country's atomic program was for purely civilian purposes.

"Recently some Western and US officials have been repeating some outdated and nonsensical comments that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons," Khamenei said. "We in no way believe in an atomic weapon and do not seek one."

Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have been supportive of ongoing international negotiations over the country's nascent nuclear program. But at the same time they have been dismissive of efforts to convince Tehran to have its uranium enriched abroad.

A proposal drawn up by the IAEA after talks between Iran, France, Russia and the US in October last year would see Iran sending its low-enriched uranium to Russia for further enrichment. Russia would then subcontract France to turn the enriched uranium into fuel rods for a research reactor in Tehran.

But Ahmadinejad announced recently that Iran had already produced highly enriched nuclear material, in defiance of the West.

Meanwhile, German insurance companies Munich Re and Allianz have halted all remaining insurance business in Iran after their national representative body said it backed international moves toward tougher sanctions against Tehran. The move comes a month after German industrial giant Siemens said it would wind down its operations there.


Editor: Nancy Isenson