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. Ex-UN weapons chief Blix urges Iran to refrain from nuclear enrichment
TAELLBERG, Sweden (AFP) Aug 02, 2005
Former chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq Hans Blix on Tuesday urged Iran to refrain from resuming its uranium enrichment programme or risk further destablisation in the Middle East.

"If Iran joins Israel in moving towards developing nuclear weapons it would exacerbate and make the situation (in the Middle East) more tense," Blix, also a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on the sidelines of an international globalisation forum in Sweden.

Iran on Monday informed the IAEA that it would soon resume uranium ore conversion at a nuclear plant near Isfanham, a move that risks plunging talks with the European Union into crisis and exposing Tehran to UN Security Council action.

Washington, which fears Iran intends to use its nuclear programme to build ab atomic bomb despite Tehran's insistence that it is only pursuing energy generation, warned on Monday that Iran would be referred to the UN Security Council to face international sanctions.

However Blix predicted that would not happen, saying there is no proof of Iran developing nuclear weapons.

"It is entirely plausible that some part of the Iranian establishment would like to go for nuclear weapons, but when you get to the Security Council, can it take a decision on military or economic sanctions against Iran for intentions? No," he said.

"Anyway, the Chinese and Russians will restrain from exerting pressure on Iran," he said.

Last November, Britain, France and Germany convinced Tehran to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used to make nuclear weapons, in return for improved trade and political relations.

However Iran has since said that Europe's big three must come up with a new package of economic and political incentives.

Blix said he believes Tehran is playing a game of brinkmanship.

"Iran has been engaged for a fairly long time with the negotiating game with the Europeans, and with such talks you expect such pressures (to be) brought. Iran will use the leverage that it has to get an agreement that is acceptable to them," he said.

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