Western powers will have to respond with further sanctions against Iran if there is no progress on nuclear talks, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a newspaper in remarks released on Thursday. She told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the focus of any new sanctions would be on the energy sector. “If there is no progress, we have to react with further sanctions. It is clear that there cannot be an atomic bomb in the hands of Tehran which has a president who constantly questions the existence of Israel,” she was quoted as saying. U.S. President Barack Obama has given Iran until September to take up a six-power offer of talks on trade benefits if it shelves sensitive nuclear enrichment, or face harsher sanctions. The United States and its allies may target gasoline imports if Tehran refuses to enter talks over its nuclear programme. The West suspects Iran aims to make nuclear bombs but Tehran insists it needs atomic fuel only for power plants. In this photo released by an official website of the Iranian supreme leader's office, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, talks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, center, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, listens, under a picture of the late Iranian revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, during their official meeting in Tehran, Iran, Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009. Iran, the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter, imports up to 40 percent of its gasoline. Asked what sort of sanctions the powers would consider, Merkel said: “Economic sanctions which hit the energy sector are up for debate but we will have to wait for the talks. We must talk with our partners Russia and China.” She added that Germany and its partners would have to decide in September on any further action, adding there was no noticeable progress on nuclear talks with Iran.
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