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. EU warns Iran could be hauled before UN
NEWPORT, Wales (AFP) Sep 01, 2005
The European Union warned Thursday that it may have to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear plans after it breached an accord with the European bloc.

Speaking at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said the bloc is watching to see if Iran would comply with a deadline this week set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

He noted that the UN nuclear watchdog's board of governors is set to meet on September 19 in Vienna, after a September 3 deadline for Iran to stop work on making atomic power reactor fuel that could also be used to make weapons.

"Then we'll see," Solana told reporters, adding that the EU would like to avoid escalating the situation "but (it would) be ready to go to theSecurity Council if necessary, yes."

The United States suspects that the Islamic republic is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and has long threatened to refer the issue to the UN Security Council.

But the European bloc resisted that call, and launched negotiations with Tehran -- offering trade and other benefits in exchange for pledges on its nuclear plans -- after striking an accord with it in Paris last November.

Those talks -- spearheaded by the so-called EU-3 of Britain, France and Germany, along with Solana -- however broke down last month after Iran ignored calls not to resume sensitive nuclear activities.

"We are very very disappointed. We have been offering a lot to the Iranians. We again call on the Iranians that they come back to the negotiating table," said EU external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

Asked if the Iran dossier may now have to be referred to New York, she said: "For the time being nothing can be ruled out."

"We are at a very delicate moment. Of course the Iranains should know that the door is still open... Nobody wants to go to the Security Council unless it became unavoidable," she said.

Analysts say that the threat to haul Tehran before the UN could in any case be an empty one, since any sanctions could be vetoed by permanent seat holders Russia or China, both of which have close ties with the Islamic state.

But meanwhile Iran has threatened retaliatory measures if it is taken to the Security Council, with analysts saying this could involve withholding oil from the world market or simply going ahead with enrichment.

Other EU sources said that the warning from Solana about refering Tehran to the UN was not a threat.

"Today is not a day for ultimatums," said one, while another added: "The main aim is to persuade Iran to come back to the negotiating table."

"Nobody now excludes the possibility that we will be obliged to go to the Security Council," said another. "There is still a window of opportunity, but its getting smaller."

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