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. Europeans join calls for Iran to show 'more transparency' on nuclear issues
VIENNA (AFP) Mar 02, 2005
Germany, France and Britain joined the United States and the United Nations nuclear watchdog Wednesday in calling on Iran to show more transparency regarding its nuclear activities.

The three European Union countries, which have been negotiating with Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program in exchange for trade and security benefits, issued a joint statement to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. The IAEA had reported key areas where Iran was refusing to cooperate with UN inspectors.

"While transparency visits have taken place, Iran seems to have been determined to limit their scope," said British ambassador Robin Wright reading from the joint statement.

The Europeans still took a more conciliatory tone than the Americans. They noted that Iran's decision to suspend uranium enrichment -- which can be used for either nuclear energy or to make atomic weapons - was "a voluntary commitment" and urged Tehran to keep its word.

The US maintains that Iran's nuclear activities are designed for a clandestine weapons program. The head of the US delegation to the IAEA board, Jackie Sanders, cited "an alarming number" of unresolved questions and warned that the IAEA could not put off "forever" taking Tehran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

Like the US, the Europeans criticized Iran for refusing to allow UN inspectors to visit its military site in Parchin where Washington accuses Tehran of simulating testing of nuclear weapons.

Parchin is not a site where there are definitely nuclear materials. But IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said that Iran was a "special case" since its nuclear program "has been clandestine for almost two decades" and he asked Tehran to allow widespread visits by UN inspectors.

The Europeans endorsed ElBaradei's call for Iran to come clean "in order to make up for the confidence deficit created by past activities and to build the necessary confidence in the future," the European statement said.

US President George W. Bush has said Washington is seeking a diplomatic solution in Iran and supports EU talks with Tehran. But Bush has said all options, including the military one, remain on the table.

The Iranian delegate to the IAEA, Cyrus Nasseri, said Iran was not allowing a second visit to Parchin, after a first one in January, in part because it was concerned about information leaks "in view of potential threats of military strikes against Iran's safeguarded and other facilities" by what he called "a major nuclear weapons state" in a clear reference to the US.

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