Security Council urge Iran to halt enrichment

30th March 2006, Comments 0 comments

30 March 2006, BERLIN - Foreign ministers of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany told Iran Thursday to suspend uranium enrichment, but side-stepped the issue of sanctions if Tehran refuses to do so.

30 March 2006

BERLIN - Foreign ministers of the five permanent United Nations Security Council members and Germany told Iran Thursday to suspend uranium enrichment, but side-stepped the issue of sanctions if Tehran refuses to do so.

"Iran has to take a choice between isolation ... or a return to the negotiating table," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a press conference after a meeting in Berlin.

The call came one day after the UN Security Council demanded Tehran suspend uranium enrichment efforts within 30 days to ease international concerns that it is trying to build nuclear weapons.

The so-called Permanent Five (P5) foreign ministers - the US, Russia, China, Britain and France - along with Germany, issued a statement saying Iran had to "suspend all enrichment related activities" and resume talks for a diplomatic solution.

But although seeking a show of unity on Iran, the statement failed to mention any possible sanctions if the Iranians defy the international community and continue nuclear enrichment.

Asked by reporters about the lack of sanctions threats, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said: "I don't think I said that I would introduce here the idea of political sanctions..."

Steinmeier said nothing further would be said about sanctions during the 30-day per period given by the Security Council.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov underlined his country's rejection of slapping sanctions on Iran.

"In principle, Russia doesn't believe that sanctions could achieve the purpose of settlement," said Lavrov, adding that concrete facts were needed before Iran should be viewed as a nuclear threat.

Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Dai Binggou stressed that Beijing wanted a peaceful solution over Iran's nuclear programme.

Despite differences over sanctions between Russia and China - which oppose such steps - and the US and Britain, which back them as a last resort, the ministers insisted they would work together for a joint diplomatic solution.

Steinmeier accused Iran of "disrespect" to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which had been monitoring Tehran's nuclear programme before voting in February to refer it to the UN Security Council.

The IAEA voted in February to report Iran to the Security Council, saying it could not confirm that Iran's nuclear programme was purely for producing electricity and citing Iran's failure to fully cooperate with inspections.

The UN Security Council statement from Wednesday demands Iran re- establish "full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified" by the Vienna-based IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog.

Enriched uranium can be used for nuclear power or to make weapons. Washington and many European countries suspect Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, while Iran insists its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.

DPA

Subject: German news

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