EU, US take hard line on Iranian nuclear activity

6th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, July 5 (AFP) - The European Union will never accept a resumption of any nuclear arms activity by Iran, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Tuesday after talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

WASHINGTON, July 5 (AFP) - The European Union will never accept a resumption of any nuclear arms activity by Iran, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Tuesday after talks with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Rice called for a complete halt to Iran's nuclear programs, stressing that suspension of its uranium enrichment activity alone was not enough and that she saw no need for the Islamic state to have a civilian nuclear program.

Iran -- suspected by Washington of seeking to develop nuclear arms -- has frozen its fuel cycle work and is negotiating with the Europeans, keen to offer Tehran trade and other incentives in return for pledges to curb its nuclear projects.

Douste-Blazy recalled that under a Paris agreement clinched between Iran and France, Britain and Germany, known as the EU-3, Tehran would suspend reprocessing of "hazardous nuclear material."

"It's absolutely basic to remember that the word of the Paris agreement is indeed suspension. But having spoken with them and having made a proposal, I think it's absolutely necessary to state that the Europeans will never accept a resumption of the Iranian military nuclear activities," he said, with Rice by his side.

Rice also referred to the Paris accord, saying it "is initially about suspension but ultimately the world has to be assured that Iran cannot have this capacity and that (there) would ultimately have to be objective guarantees and we believe that means cessation.

"But as a starting point, and these negotiations are now under way, the first and most important step has been to make certain that the suspension is maintained.

"But no, we believe that it has to be cessation," Rice said when answering a question on whether just a suspension of Iran's nuclear activities would be sufficient.

The EU-3 are trying to convince Iran to completely abandon its enrichment program -- which could be diverted to military purposes -- and have promised to come up with the outlines of a long-term accord by the end of July.

Moderate conservative cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani -- seen as being more open to such an agreement in return for a package of incentives -- had been expected to win the recent Iranian presidential election but was thrashed by hardliner Mahmood Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad has insisted that his country had the right to pursue its nuclear program but said Tehran would continue nuclear talks with the European Union.

Douste-Blazy said although the European Union regretted that not all candidates were able to contest the Iranian presidential polls, "we must now continue our diplomatic relations with Iran so as to make sure that they abide by the spirit" of the Paris agreement.

Washington accuses Iran of using a civilian atomic energy program to seek nuclear weapons but Tehran denies the charge, saying its nuclear program is peaceful and designed to generate electricity.

Rice said "there must be objective guarantees that Iran is not surreptitiously gaining the technology or technological know-how that might lead to the development of a nuclear weapon.

"And that means enrichment, reprocessing and … all of the activities associated with the fuel cycle. And we have been very clear that we do not see the need for civilian nuclear power in Iran," she said.

But she added that the United States had taken note of Russia's intention to "safeguard" the Bushehr nuclear reactor against proliferation concerns.

Despite US objections, Russia is building a reactor in Iran's first nuclear power plant at Bushehr. The reactor is due to be switched on in 2006.

Russia has emphasised that Iran should have the right to use nuclear energy for peaceful means but also that there should be international controls on Iran's nuclear program.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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