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. EU presses Iran to cooperate more with UN nuclear watchdog
VALKENBURG, The Netherlands (AFP) Sep 03, 2004
EU foreign ministers expressed concern Friday over Iran's nuclear plans and called on it to cooperate more closely with UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"We agreed upon the need to send out a strong signal to Iran to cooperate with the IAEA and to provide the necessary information as requested by its director general Mr (Mohammed) ElBaradei," said Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot, whose country holds the European Union (EU)'s rotating presidency.

He said the EU was "pessimistic" about the situation, noting "regrettable developments" in recent weeks and months.

"I think this is exactly the reason why we are looking at the measures that can be taken to make quite clear to the regime that we cannot accept certain things."

Europe -- specifically Britain, France and Germany -- has sought to engage Iran over its pursuit of nuclear technology to ensure it remains peaceful, while the US has accused Tehran of seeking to develop atomic weapons.

Washington is continuing efforts to convince the 34 other members of the UN watchdog's governing board to refer Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear programme.

Bot said that the EU wants to "send out very strong signal ... that we're in business, that we have given every opportunity, also in the past to keep the dialogue going" with Tehran.

"We are willing to help with the enrichment programme ... we are willing to help with their energy situation but also that we cannot accept of course the development of weapon-grade uranium," he said.

"That signal should be very strong and should be unanimously given by the 25" EU member states, he added.

In Tehran Friday an Iranian nuclear official said Tehran was ready to provide guarantees that its enrichment programmes would never be used for military purposes.

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