Vienna (AFP) Nov 22, 2005
The United States hopes that getting countries such as Russia involved in nuclear talks with Iran will help move Tehran from its current "dangerous course", a senior US official said Tuesday.
"It is our hope that the engagement of other countries like Russia, like China, will make it more likely that the leadership in Iran listens to the international community, shifts off the dangerous course it's on," said Gregory Schulte, US ambassador to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The United States charges that Iran is using an allegedly peaceful nuclear program to hide the covert development of nuclear weapons, something Tehran denies.
The IAEA has called on Iran to halt nuclear fuel work and is still investigating the Iranian atomic program. The agency's 35-nation board of governors is to meet at its headquarters in Vienna on Thursday.
The board had in September found Iran in contravention of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for hiding sensitive atomic activities.
But it decided to hold off referring Iran to the UN Security Council, which could impose penalties such as trade sanctions, with a similar decision expected this week
"The board decided to give Iran time to change the course that it's going down," Schulte told reporters.
But he added that Iran had failed to halt uranium conversion, provide full cooperation with an IAEA investigation and resume talks with the European Union on guaranteeing its nuclear program is peaceful.
"I have to say that progress has been disappointing," Schulte said.
In addition, the discovery that Iran possessed a guide to making the explosive core of an atom bomb raised "a whole series of questions", he added.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had not set a deadline for taking Iran to the Security Council since the goal was a diplomatic solution.
"We think the best way to achieve a diplomatic solution is to maintain international pressure on Iran," Schulte said, hailing the efforts of the so-called EU-3, Britain, France and Germany.
Russia has proposed allowing Iran to make enriched uranium, which can be fuel for nuclear reactors but also the raw material for atom bombs, in Russia to reduce the proliferation risk.
"We think it is very important to have the EU-3 work with Russia to bring additional pressure to bear," Schulte said.
earlier related report
"The date is December 6. There is no agreement yet on the venue," said a European diplomat, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the issue.
New talks would be the next step after the United States and the so-called EU-3 -- Britain, France and Germany -- put off calling this week on the UN nuclear watchdog to send the Iranian case to the UN Security Council, in order to give Russia time to get Tehran to agree to a compromise.
The West fears that Iran is using a civilian nuclear power program to hide covert development of atomic weapons. Tehran says its program is a peaceful project to generate electricity.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday that Iran's suspected aim to make the bomb could pose a "very serious threat to world stability and peace."
The United States hopes that getting countries such as Iranian ally Russia involved in talks will help get Tehran "off the dangerous course it's on", said Gregory Schulte, US ambassador to the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The message that must be sent was that pressure was coming not just from the United States and the EU-3 but was "a much broader international consensus", Schulte told reporters.
According to the European diplomat, the idea for the December meeting would be to "talk about (resuming) talks" between Iran and the trio of European Union negotiators on guaranteeing Tehran will not make nuclear weapons.
The talks broke off in August when Iran resumed uranium conversion it had suspended nine months earlier.
Conversion turns uranium ore into the gas that is the feedstock for making enriched uranium, which can be fuel for either nuclear power reactors or the raw material for atom bombs.
There would be "no strings attached", to the December talks, the European diplomat said, although Iran should be "prepared to discuss seriously" a Russian compromise proposal under which Tehran's uranium enrichment would be carried out in Russia.
Possible venues for the meeting include Moscow, Vienna and Geneva. According to the diplomat, while the logistics were not in place it would almost certainly take place unless Iran escalated the crisis, such as by moving ahead with actual enrichment.
This week's IAEA board meeting will not refer Iran to the Security Council, a move which could lead to sanctions, another Western diplomat said on Monday.
The body's 35-nation board of governors meets in Vienna Thursday to review progress after calling on Iran in September to cease all nuclear fuel work, to cooperate with an IAEA investigation and to return to talks with the European Union.
The IAEA board had also in September found Iran in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a ruling that opens the way to bringing the matter to the Security Council.
Russia and China, which also has strong economic ties with Tehran, both support Iran's right to civilian nuclear technology and oppose any referral to the world body.
The Western diplomat speaking Monday said the United States felt it was "worth taking a few more months to work on Russia and China to bring them on board" to support UN referral if diplomacy fails.
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Blair Warns Iran's Nuke Program Could Threaten 'World Stability'
London (AFP) Nov 22, 2005
Iran's suspected aim to develop nuclear weapons could pose a "very serious threat to world stability and peace", British Prime Minister Tony Blair said Tuesday.
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