EU's Solana to maintain pressure on Iran over nuclear program
DUBLIN (AFP) Jan 08, 2004
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Thursday he will maintain pressure on Iran to continue cooperation with the UN's atomic watchdog over its nuclear program in a forthcoming visit to Tehran.

Solana, who travels to Vienna Sunday for talks with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), wants to put dialogue with Iran back on track after Tehran last month ended months of wrangling by signing a key UN treaty protocol allowing surpise inspections of its nuclear facilities.

"I would like very much to reestablish a climate of dialogue with Iran," he said, adding that the nuclear row meant that EU-Tehran relations "have been going through a dip. I would like to try to see if we can recuperate that."

"Recuperating that ... means also that the Iranian government has to continue working efficiently and cooperating with (the IAEA)," added Solana, who will travel to Tehran on Monday.

Iran last month signed the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), following months of intense diplomacy to pressure Tehran into placing its nuclear facilities under greater international supervision and prove that it is not seeking to develop atomic weapons.

Despite EU heavyweights Britain, France and Germany helping persuade Tehran to sign the protocol, the nuclear row severely strained ties.

The EU, unlike the United States which has labelled Iran part of an "axis of evil", has pursued a policy of constructive engagement with Tehran.