EU agrees to back off from taking Iran to Security Council
VIENNA (AFP) Nov 24, 2005
The European Union has agreed to give Iran more time to negotiate on its nuclear program in a move that postpones taking Tehran to the UN Security Council for violating non-proliferation safeguards, a British envoy said Thursday.
Talks on a Russian proposal to allow Iran to conduct uranium enrichment, but in Russia and not in Iran in order to keep Tehran from obtaining nuclear technology crucial in making atom bombs, will now take center stage.
Speaking for the EU presidency at a UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency board meeting, British ambassador Peter Jenkins still warned Iran against making any "unilateral moves" to increase its atomic activities.
The European Union and the United States charge that Iran is, despite its denials, using its drive towards atomic energy for electricity generation as a cover for developing nuclear weapons.
In Tehran, Iran claimed victory.
"United States defeated over sending Iranian dossier to Security Council," trumpeted the headline in the conservative daily Jomhuri Islami.
Jenkins told reporters the EU had "acceded to the request of severalboard (of governors) members who have asked for more time for diplomatic dialogue on the future of Iran's nuclear program."
The IAEA's board of governors was meeting in Vienna to review progress since it found Iran in September in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a finding that requires eventual referral to the Security Council for possible international sanctions.
Jenkins said Iran should "seriously" consider the Russian compromise proposal.
But Jenkins warned Iran needed "to implement the confidence-building measures" for which the IAEA has called, namely to cease uranium conversion work that is the first step in enriching uranium into what can be nuclear reactor fuel or atomic bomb material.
He said Iran should "refrain from any further unilateral move which could aggravate the situation," a clear reference to it moving on to actual uranium enrichment.
Jenkins said in a speech to the board "that any resumption of enrichment related activities at Natanz (an enrichment facility) would seriously aggravate the situation created by the resumption of activity at Isfahan," the conversion facility.
Jenkins said in his press comments that the EU also "sees grounds for deep concern" that Iran "has admitted to having in its possession a document which was supplied" by an international black market and which is a guide to making the explosive core of an atom bomb.
Jenkins said the opening for talks, and the IAEA's holding off for now on referral, should not be misunderstood by Iran.
"Iran should not conclude that this window of opportunity will remain open in all circumstances," Jenkins said.
EU-Iran talks collapsed in August when Iran broke a suspension of uranium conversion it had begun nine-months earlier in order to start the negotiations on guaranteeing it would not make nuclear weapons.
"There is the hope that there will be resumed negotiations", a European diplomat, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, told
"The action is elsewhere," a diplomat said, referring to plans by Russia and the EU negotiators -- Britain, France and Germany -- to meet with Iran on December 6, probably in Vienna or Moscow, to break the deadlock.
A non-aligned diplomat close to the IAEA said the Iranians are "keen" for the talks.
Iranian ambassador to the IAEA Mohammad Akhondzadeh told AFP that his country was "optimistic" a December meeting would be held but said: "We have not received an invitation yet."
US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said in Washington on Tuesday that the United States had made progress in mustering support from countries such as China and Russia to insist on a crackdown on Iran, even with a compromise solution.
China called at the board meeting for Iran to cooperate with the IAEA and to cease conversion in order "to create favorable conditions for the resumption of negotiations," a diplomat told AFP.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.