Iran bound for UN Security Council after EU talks fail

3rd March 2006, Comments 0 comments

3 March 2006, VIENNA/TEHRAN - Last-minute Iranian-EU nuclear talks failed to produce agreement Friday in advance of a crucial International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) session next week, German Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier said.

3 March 2006

VIENNA/TEHRAN - Last-minute Iranian-EU nuclear talks failed to produce agreement Friday in advance of a crucial International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) session next week, German Foreign Minister Walter Steinmeier said.

The German and French foreign ministers held a two-hour meeting with Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, but Tehran still refused to give up its disputed domestic uranium enrichment programme.

Steinmeier said at a press conference afterwards the talks had been in a constructive atmosphere, but the two sides had not succeeded in reaching an agreement. "The EU is still willing to hold talks with Tehran," he said.

Steinmeier reiterated the EU negotiators' demand for a suspension of all uranium-enriching activities by Iran as the basic condition for further talks. That was "the necessary condition to talk calmly."

Little time remained for a compromise, as the IAEA Board of Governors would start its meeting in Vienna Monday, at which a decision was expected whether to refer the Iran nuclear dispute to the UN Security Council.

The last-minute meeting at Larijani's request had started at 8 a.m. (0700 GMT) at the German ambassador's residence in Vienna. There was strict security, and the international media were represented in force.

Larijani was accompanied by his deputy Javad Vaeedi.

Steinmeier and Philippe Douste-Blazy attended, but their British colleague Jack Straw was prevented by illness and was represented by Foreign Office Political Director John Saver.

The EU was also represented by High Representative for Foreign Affairs Javier Solana.

The EU side, supported by the United States, and also Russia and China, had called on the government in Tehran to halt its uranium enrichment activities. Iran was not prepared to do so.

The international community fears that Iran will not only use its programme to generate electricity, but also to build atomic bombs. Iran insists its programme is entirely peaceful, and that it has the right to use nuclear power.

The UN Security Council could now become involved in the Iranian case as soon as next week. France's Douste-Blazy said after the meeting that "in the next few days" the council would deal with IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei's report that criticizes Iran's nuclear policies.

The Iranian delegation left the talks without comment Friday, but said later in Tehran that the government would wait for an assessment of the talks by the Europeans before adopting a final position.

Meanwhile, Iranian ex-president Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani called for a "wise decision" in the nuclear dispute.

"Iran and the European Union have already started their talks in Vienna and I hope that both sides will take a wise decision in the nuclear matter," Rafsanjani said at Friday prayers.

"An unwise decision could lead to a dangerous situation, not only in Iran and in the (Gulf) region but also in the world," Rafsanjani said referring to the consequences of an escalation of the dispute.

"Why try to untie a knot with your teeth if you can do it with your hands?" Rafsanjani said, citing an old Persian proverb.

The IAEA Board of Governors had already decided to refer Iran to the Security Council at the beginning of February for violating international treaties for decades with its nuclear programme.

The Security Council was asked to wait until the Board of Governors meeting Monday before any action was taken to give Tehran the opportunity to meet the IAEA's demands and suspend uranium enrichment.

The IAEA's report states that after three years of searching, the agency could not say with any certainty if the Iranian nuclear programme was peaceful or not.

Steinmeier met with ElBaradei following the talks with Iran in Vienna. Later he held talks with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kisliak and with current EU President and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel.

DPA

Subject: German news

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