* U.S. official says talks could resume at some point
* France says 5+1 united, ready to apply more pressure
* Israel draws "red line" over Iran nuclear program
By John Irish
NEW YORK, Sept 27 China said on Thursday that
the disagreement over Iran's nuclear program had reached "a new,
crucial stage," calling for Tehran to begin a new round of talks
with world powers, something a U.S. official said could happen
at some point.
Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi made the comment after
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a speech drawing
a "red line" for Iran's nuclear program on Thursday, despite a
U.S. refusal to set an ultimatum, saying Tehran will be on the
brink of a nuclear weapon in less than a year.
While Netanyahu was not entirely clear on the point, he
appeared to suggest that if Iran were to acquire enough 20
percent enriched uranium needed for a single bomb, it would have
crossed his proposed "red line" and could face military action.
Yang spoke several hours after Netanyahu's U.N. General
Assembly address and after a meeting of officials from the five
permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the United
States, France, Britain, Russia and China - and Germany yielded
no obvious signs of progress toward a diplomatic solution.
"The Iranian nuclear issue has reached a new, crucial
stage," Yang said in a speech at the U.N. General Assembly. "The
relevant parties should remain committed to a diplomatic
solution and begin a new round of dialogue as soon as possible."
A senior U.S. official said "at some point" the group would
likely return for a fourth round of talks with Iran.
"I think we've got some additional work to do first, so I
would not expect that to happen immediately, but I would hope
that we will get there in the not-too-distant future," said the
official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The push to resume talks comes at a time when tensions
between Iran and Israel are rising and diplomatic efforts to
resolve the decade-long dispute over Iran's nuclear work have
Israel, the United States, the European Union and their
allies say Iran is amassing the capability to produce a nuclear
bomb, an allegation the Islamic Republic denies.
The six world powers, represented by EU foreign policy chief
Catherine Ashton, have sought to persuade Iran to scale back the
enrichment of uranium through intensifying economic sanctions
France said earlier this week it would seek a new round of
EU sanctions targeting Iran's financial sector next month.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said after Thursday's talks the
group was "united" and ready to apply more pressure on Tehran.
They have so far failed to reach a breakthrough in three
rounds of talks since April.
Western sanctions on Iran tightened markedly this year with
an EU ban on crude oil purchases from Iran and U.S. sanctions
targeting banks that deal with Iran's central bank.
U.N. diplomats say the possibility of further U.N. Security
Council sanctions is slim because Russia and China are opposed
to the idea. There was no sign the issue was discussed on
After the talks on the sidelines of the U.N. General
Assembly in New York, Ashton said the powers had discussed the
need for Iran to take action urgently regarding its nuclear
issue and planned to contact Tehran to continue the process.
"We have to ensure that we aren't going to have talks for
talks' sake, and we have some reason to believe that they will
move to a point of seriousness, but we will test this out every
step of the way," the U.S. official said.