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. EU's Solana says Iran nuclear deal 'only the start'
BRUSSELS (AFP) Nov 15, 2004
European Union foreign affairs chief Javier Solana said Monday a hard-fought agreement clinched by the EU to get Iran to suspend its nuclear uranium drive was "only the start" before a long-term accord.

"This is a welcome agreement. We can now look forward to the International Atomic Energy Agency's report that Iran's voluntary suspension is being implemented in full," he said in a statement.

"Potentially it is the start of a new chapter in our relations. The negotiations on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (with the EU) should be resumed as soon as suspension is verified," Solana noted.

"It is however only the start. We now need to work rapidly to produce a solid long-term agreement," the Spanish official continued.

"This should on the one hand provide lasting confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme and on the other bring concrete results in the area of trade, technology exchange and security, as well as in the nuclear dimension.

"This will not be an easy task but we have taken the first step and that is very important."

In an 11th-hour deal with the EU's three biggest powers -- Britain, France and Germany (E3) -- late Sunday, Iran agreed to freeze uranium enrichment-related activities to ease fears its fuel cycle work could be diverted to make an atomic bomb.

The agreement, which is to be verified by the UN's atomic watchdog, was seen as averting the threat of Iran being hauled before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions later this month.

A senior EU diplomat said the 25-nation bloc would not "cut across" US policy on Iran fresh from securing the deal with the Islamic republic.

"The US will make its own mind up as to what they want to do. But we will not want to do anything that cuts across US policy," he told reporters on condition of anonymity.

"The US knew what we were doing so it won't come as a surprise to them. Maybe there are tactical differences but the objectives are the same," the official added.

The EU has engaged with Iran's Islamic regime, most notably over its nuclear programme, in contrast to the United States, which says the country forms part of a terrorism-sponsoring "axis of evil".

The EU diplomat highlighted a portion of the text that says the "E3/EU will support the IAEA Director General inviting Iran to join the Expert Group on Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle".

"This is code to say we will not refer Iran to the UN Security Council," he said.

"After the agreement is verified, we will be partly reassured. But this agreement is only a step towards a long-term agreement," he added.

Negotiations on a long-term nuclear accord could open "very shortly", while in return the EU will resume talks with Iran on the potentially lucrative Trade and Cooperation Agreement, long frozen over the nuclear row.

Asked whether Iran could walk away from the nuclear deal if it does not secure the trade accord, the diplomat said: "The agreement needs to be implemented in good faith on both sides."

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