West agrees to send Iranian nuclear issue to UN
13 January 2006, The major Western powers were pushing Friday for an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme to the United Nations Security Council.
13 January 2006
The major Western powers were pushing Friday for an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send the standoff over Iran's nuclear programme to the United Nations Security Council.
The confrontation escalated Thursday as Britain, France and Germany, known as the E.U.-3, effectively declared the end of their nuclear talks with Iran after more than two years of diplomatic efforts to settle the issue.
The European powers moved closer to the United States, which had sought a much earlier move to the Security Council but continued to support the European Union-sponsored talks.
The Security Council could impose diplomatic and even economic sanctions to bring the Tehran regime into compliance with international standards for nuclear non-proliferation.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran would continue its nuclear programmes regardless of Western objections.
Iran this week broke IAEA inspection seals on its nuclear facilities and declared its intention to resume uranium enrichment research, provoking the European response.
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice supported the European decision to end talks, and she accused Tehran of choosing "confrontation with the international community over cooperation and negotiation".
"We agree that the Iranian regime's defiant resumption of uranium enrichment work leaves the E.U. with no choice but to request an emergency meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors," Rice told reporters Thursday at the State Department.
She called for a "strong message" to be sent, but stopped short of specifying that Washington will seek Security Council sanctions to ratchet up pressure on Iran.
"There are ... a variety of tools at the disposal of the international community once it has been referred to the Security Council," Rice said. "We will - at a time of our choosing in the international system - begin to actually apply those various means."
The next scheduled IAEA meeting is in March. The United States has expressed confidence that there are enough votes on the IAEA's governing board to bring Iran to the Security Council.
"There is a generally shared view that the time has come for Security Council referral," a senior State Department official said after Rice's briefing. "I don't see anybody opposing U.N. referral."
Russia and China have apparently dropped their previous resistance to a U.N. referral.
U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday offered to mediate in the nuclear dispute with Iran, and urged continued diplomatic efforts in "the IAEA context".
After speaking by telephone with Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, Annan said that Iran is "interested in serious and constructive negotiations" with Britain, France and Germany.
Javad Vaeidi, a member of Iran's National Security Council, said that the Europeans "should beware of pursuing a policy of putting a country into a corner and against the wall".
Iranian parliament Speaker Gholam-Ali Hadad Adel said that the Europeans should "explain the reason" for their call for a U.N. referral. "Our decision to resume our nuclear research programme was in full compliance with the IAEA and will be effected under strict supervision of IAEA inspectors," he said.
Some Iranian hardliners have threatened to push for the country's withdrawal from the international Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that the E.U. respects Iran's right to civil nuclear power. "But they are under obligation not to anything which could lead to development of nuclear weapons," he said.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns is expected to meet Monday in London with European allies, plus officials from Russia and China, to discuss the next diplomatic steps, and Robert Joseph, U.S. undersecretary for non-proliferation, was to visit IAEA headquarters in Vienna.
Rice said that Iran's decision was a "dangerous defiance" of the international community and that Iran's desire to pursue enrichment had no peaceful purpose. She also pointed to comments by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel be wiped off the map.
"He certainly helped to seal the view that this is very dangerous power," she said.
Rice blamed Iran for failing to negotiate a solution to the dispute with the European Union or accepting Russia's offer to enrich uranium for energy production on Russian soil and provide the material to the Iranians. The United States supported the Russian proposal.
The E.U.-3 decided to push for a Security Council role after talks with the Iranians reached a "dead end", German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. "In our view, things have come to the point where the Security Council must be engaged," he said.
The United States will continue to pursue a peaceful, diplomatic solution to the dispute with Iran, Rice said, adding that Washington hopes a Security Council referral would send a message to Tehran that the international community is serious about Iran's nuclear intentions.
"I would hope, that now seeing the very powerful reaction of the international community, that Iran would take a step back and look at the isolation that it is about to experience," Rice said.
Subject: German news