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. UN chief, Bush agree Iran nuclear crisis "serious"
WASHINGTON, Jan 16 (AFP) Jan 17, 2007
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he and US President George W. Bush agreed in talks Tuesday that the Iranian nuclear problem is a "serious" issue threatening international security.

But he rejected any preemptive military action on Iran by states that felt threatened by Tehran's nuclear activities, saying it "should be discussed" at the UN Security Council.

Ban said he discussed the Iranian crisis with Bush in their first meeting after the South Korean official assumed office on January 1.

"We are of the same position that this is one of the serious issues which threaten peace and security of the world," Ban said when answering questions after delivering a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

He said that Iran's sensitive uranium enrichment activity "has very serious and wide implications for not only the Middle East but also all around the world.

"The international commumity should prevent the Iranian government from further firing its nuclear technologies," Ban said, citing sanctions adopted by the Security Council recently.

The 15-member Council unanimously passed a resolution in December, sponsored by Britain, France and Germany, mandating sanctions targeting Iran's sensitive nuclear and ballistic missile programs over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

But a defiant Iran vowed to start work immediately on drastically expanding its capacity to enrich uranium.

Ban urged the Iranian authorities "to fully comply" with the resolution and at the same time "engage in diplomatic negotiations with countries, particularly the European Union, and members of the Security Council" to resolve the issue.

To a question on whether states which felt threatened by Iran's nuclear activity could take preemptive military action against it, Ban said, "that should be discussed at the Security Council."

The United States has said that military force remains an option over the Iranian issue while insisting that its priority is to reach a diplomatic solution.

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