Vienna (AFP) Jun 16, 2006
World powers were united at the UN atomic agency Thursday in urging Iran to suspend uranium enrichment to show it does not seek atomic weapons, with the United States warning of Security Council action if Tehran fails to comply, diplomats said.
Speaking at a meeting in Vienna of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), US ambassador Gregory Schulte said the goal was "to open negotiations for a long-term agreement" on giving Iran benefits in return for guarantees its nuclear program is peaceful.
The six powers calling for the talks - Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States - all echoed the call for Iran to honor IAEA resolutions for Iran to suspend enrichment as a confidence-building measure.
Uranium enrichment makes nuclear reactor fuel but also atom bomb material.
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday in Tehran that his country would not bow to pressure over its atomic program, implicitly rejecting the calls to suspend enrichment.
Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said the international community's "carrot-and-stick" policy over Iran's nuclear program was counterproductive.
"Humiliation and the use of language of threat of referring the nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council... have had serious impact on mutual trust and confidence on parties involved and thus the process of negotiations," he said.
Schulte told the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors that Iran should meet "IAEA and (UN) Security Council requests to suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing." Uranium and plutonium are both weapons material.
If not, Iran would face "the weight of the Security Council", Schulte said, according to a copy of his speech made available to the press.
China called on Iran to honor IAEA and UN requests and Russia said it should respond positively to the six nations' conditions for talks, a diplomat told journalists.
The Council has punitive powers, unlike the IAEA which is merely a verification and monitoring organization, and can impose sanctions.
"We all hope that the leadership of Iran will make the best choice for the people of Iran," Schulte told reporters.
The US call was echoed in statements by Austria, on behalf of the European Union, and France on behalf of EU states Britain, France and Germany, which have led past negotiations with Iran over the nuclear issue.
Non-aligned states on the IAEA board read out a statement the 114-nation non-aligned movement had issued in Malaysia in May backing Iran's right to nuclear fuel work.
But a Western diplomat said it was wrong to see the NAM as a single-minded block as in individual speeches "eight of the 16 NAM countries on the board went beyond the statement in calling for (Iranian) compliance with board resolutions."
Among these were Brazil, South Africa and India, diplomats said.
Meanwhile, in Shanghai, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Iran had the right to nuclear technology, as he entered a meeting with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The IAEA on Thursday heard two reports from its chief Mohamed Elbaradei that said Iran has failed to cooperate fully in resolving concerns that it is secretly trying to develop a nuclear bomb.
The reports, one from April 28 and the other from last week, also show Iran is pressing ahead with uranium enrichment.
But ElBaradei said in opening the IAEA meeting Monday that he remained "convinced that the way forward lies through dialogue and mutual accommodation among all concerned parties."
Diplomats agreed that nations were being relatively restrained at the IAEA meeting in order not to disturb diplomacy over getting Iran to return to talks.
"No one wants to rock the boat," one diplomat said.
The six world powers have offered Iran talks on incentives that include the United States lifting some of its trade sanctions against Iran and international support for the "building of new light water reactors in Iran," according to a copy of the proposal shown to AFP.
A initial draft of their proposal had listed potential sanctions which could be imposed on Iran, but the final offer delivered on June 6 by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana made no mention of specific punitive measures, according to copies of both texts shown to AFP.
Source: Agence France-Presse
International Atomic Energy Agency
Japan Doubts North Korean Missile Test Imminent
Tokyo (AFP) Jun 16, 2006
Japan on Thursday downplayed the possibility of an imminent missile test by North Korea after its ally the United States warned of a response if Pyongyang carries out a long-range launch. "We are not in an extremely serious situation," Foreign Minister Taro Aso said when asked about the string of the reports that North Korea is planning to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile.
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