Brussels (AFP) Jan 22, 2007
EU foreign ministers agreed Monday to implement the full raft of UN sanctions against Iran to punish Tehran for failing to meet international demands over its nuclear programme. Following talks in Brussels, the foreign ministers agreed to halt trade in nuclear-related goods with the Islamic republic, freeze the assets of those linked to the programme and impose targeted travel bans.
The EU decision came as Iran said it would block 38 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors from entering the country, and a day after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad vowed not to bow to international pressure.
"The council deplored Iran's failure to take the steps repeatedly required by the IAEA board of governors and the United Nations Security Council," the ministers said in their conclusions.
They welcomed the measures in UN Security Council resolution 1737, passed on December 23, imposing sanctions on Iran for its repeated refusal to fully cooperate with the UN atomic energy watchdog or suspend uranium enrichment.
The ministers said the sanctions "are targeted against the most sensitive parts of the Iranian nuclear and missile programmes, and called on all countries to implement the measures in full and without delay."
"We have a common stance. I think this is the necessary and clear signal. we have to show resolve," said German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.
"The Iranians know, and have known for months what they have to do," he said.
When asked how long it would take for Britain to apply the sanctions, British Foreign Minister Margaret Beckett said: "In common with everyone else, we will implement them as speedily and as effectively as we can."
Highly-enriched uranium can be used to build an atom bomb and the West fears that the Islamic republic could be trying to develop such a weapon under the cover of a civilian nuclear programme.
Iran maintains that it is only exercising its right as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to develop nuclear technology to meet its energy needs.
In Tehran on Sunday, Ahmadinejad pledged that Iran would never bow to UN resolutions on its nuclear programme, as the military prepared for war games -- amid talk of "foreign threats" -- to include short-range missile tests.
"Even if they adopt 10 other resolutions it will not have any effect," he said.
The ministers underlined that the 27-nation bloc has not withdrawn last year's offer of political and economic incentives to encourage Tehran to give up the sensitive enrichment activities.
They said the package could "open the way for a new relationship with Iran based on mutual respect and expanded cooperation, and called upon Iran to seize the opportunity of reaching a negotiated solution."
Also in that vein, the ministers welcomed a move by the security council to halt implementation of the measures if the IAEA deems in an upcoming report that Tehran has suspended enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.
They also recalled that it is "EU policy not to sell arms to Iran" -- a reference to what has essentially been a weapons embargo for about the last decade -- but refused to formalise the ban.
The EU is expected to prepare a list of officials subject to visa bans, which could differ from the list annexed to the UN resolution as it might include Iranians studying proliferation-sensitive subjects in Europe.
The ministers' political declaration now allows the EU's legal experts to draw up the necessary legislation for the UN resolution to be implemented.
earlier related report
"Such measures as preventing certain inspectors from arriving in Tehran, which may be taken, comply with the laws and norms of the IAEA," Manuchehr Motaki said.
Some countries suspect Iran, which lifted its moratorium on uranium enrichment in January 2006, of pursuing a covert nuclear weapons program. Tehran has consistently denied the claims and says it needs nuclear power for civilian purposes.
Motaki said his ministry would announce this week the names of the inspectors that had been denied entry.
The ISNA news agency quoted a senior parliamentary official as saying earlier in the day: "Our refusal to grant entry to 38 inspectors from the IAEA is the first practical step to restrict cooperation with the agency in response to Resolution 1737, adopted by the UN Security Council."
The UN Security Council unanimously adopted the resolution on Iran on December 23, which imposed sanctions on the country's nuclear weapons programs but allowed officials to make foreign trips and companies to do business abroad.
The resolution banned activities involving uranium enrichment, chemical reprocessing, heavy water-based projects, and production of nuclear weapons delivery systems.
Tehran responded to the resolution by saying it would review its cooperation with the IAEA, and Alaeddin Borujerdi, head of parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said Iran had informed the IAEA, which is expected to file a report on Iran's nuclear program February 23, of its decision to ban the inspection.
Speaking in parliament last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the nuclear program would continue regardless of any resolutions against it.
"Even if the UN Security Council adopts a dozen resolutions, this will not keep us from exercising our legitimate right to peaceful nuclear energy."
ISNA reported last Wednesday that Iranian authorities had invited representatives of international organizations to visit its nuclear facilities on February 2-5.
The agency cited Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's representative at the IAEA, as saying that the country had invited the envoys of three nations of the Non-Aligned Movement (Cuba, Malaysia and Egypt), the head of the Group of 77, a loose alliance of developing nations, representatives of the IAEA Board of Governors, and the permanent representative of the League of Arab States at international organizations in Vienna.
Source: Agence France-Presse
Source: RIA Novosti
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Iran Launches Missile Tests Amid Fresh Nuclear Defiance
Tehran (AFP) Jan 22, 2007
Iran launched a series of war games on Monday and vowed to block UN nuclear inspectors from entering the country in a fresh show of defiance over its controversial nuclear aims. EU foreign ministers in Brussels, meanwhile, deplored Tehran's lack of cooperation over its nuclear programme and vowed to fully implement UN sanctions, including asset freezes, trade stoppages and travel bans.
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