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Diplomats Discuss Iran Sanctions in Paris

The United States used closed-door talks in Paris Tuesday to urge Russia and China to agree to sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program. Diplomats from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany have been meeting in the French capital to try to reach an agreement on the difficult issue, but there was no word on any breakthrough. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from Paris.

The meeting took place among senior diplomats from the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members - the United States, Britain, Russia, China and France - along with Germany, after months of diplomacy failed to persuade Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

Many world powers fear Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. But Tehran insists its program is for generating nuclear energy, and the country's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has warned, in particular, against European efforts to halt the country's nuclear activities.

In the past, the six world powers have been unable to agree to a sanctions program. Of the six, Russia and China have expressed the strongest misgivings. But Russia recently expressed support for some forms of sanctions, and France's foreign minister has voiced optimism that an agreement can ultimately be reached.

Even if the U.N. Security council eventually votes on a sanctions package, there are many forms it can take. And, says French analyst Francois Heisbourg, its unclear just what kind of impact it could have.

"The way this kind of resolution will play in a complex society and polity like that of Iran ... and for some sectors of Iran's political and economic structure, the notion of being put in the doghouse even on a limited basis by the Security Council as a whole is something which may register. But as I say we don't actually know that," he said.

On the other hand, Heisbourg says, given Washington's problems in Iraq and other regional hot spots like Lebanon and Afghanistan, Iran might maintain its tough rhetoric on its nuclear activities, whatever the U.N. Security Council may ultimately vote on.