* Westerwelle in Jerusalem for talks
* Says still time for diplomatic solution on Iran
* But deems "talks for sake of talks" with Iran unacceptable
* Israel wants tougher international action on Iran
By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM, Sept 9 Germany's foreign minister on
Sunday urged Iran to make "substantial offers" to restart
nuclear talks with world powers and told Israel allowing the
Islamic Republic to get the bomb was "not an option".
Guido Westerwelle's comments, made during a visit to
Jerusalem, followed weeks of rhetoric in Israel over a possible
go-it-alone strike against Iran's nuclear facilities and calls
by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for world powers to
set a "red line" for Tehran.
Westerwelle, whose country, together with France, Britain,
Russia, China and the United States, has held three rounds of
inconclusive talks with Iran this year, said there was still
time for a diplomatic solution but warned Iran not to try to
acquire nuclear weapons.
"Nuclear arms in the hands of the Iranian government is not
an option and we will not accept this," he said as he met
Germany and other countries want Iran to open up its nuclear
facilities to international scrutiny and to provide proof that
its civilian nuclear programme does not have a military
"We share the concern in Israel about the nuclear programme
in Iran," Westerwelle told reporters in earlier talks with
Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday.
"But it is serious, and it's crucial, and this means that
talks for the sake of talks is not what we are seeking," he
"And therefore we call on the government in Iran to come
back to the table with substantial offers, which is very
necessary and very crucial at this time."
At a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Cyprus
on Friday, Germany, Britain and France called for new EU
sanctions against Iran.
The ministers did not say what further measures the EU could
take. The 27-nation bloc banned imports of Iranian oil and
isolated its banking system in the last round of sanctions that
came into full force in July.
The sanctions appear to have contributed to a collapse in
the Iranian currency which plunged to an all-time low on Sunday.
Central Bank Governor Mahmoud Bahmani said: "We are fighting
with the world in an economic sense."
"The conditions we are in are war conditions," Bahmani
added, according to the Iranian Students' News Agency.
The sanctions are aimed at forcing Iran to curb nuclear
activities that the West believes are aimed at developing a
nuclear weapons capability, an allegation Tehran denies.
Iran says its nuclear work is for peaceful energy purposes
and that it will not bend to pressure from the West.
Israel, believed to be the only nuclear-armed state in the
Middle East, views the possibility of Iran developing a nuclear
bomb as a threat to its existence and has said it may use
military means if diplomacy and sanctions fail.
Addressing his Cabinet on Sunday, Netanyahu hailed Canada's
decision on Friday to cut diplomatic relations with Iran over
its nuclear activities.
"I call on the entire international community, or at least
on its responsible members, to follow in Canada's determined
path and set Iran moral and practical red lines, lines that will
stop its race to achieve nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said.