EU starts to get tough with Iran

24th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 23 (AFP) - France, Britain and Germany have called off a planned meeting with Iran on August 31 because of Tehran's decision to resume sensitive nuclear activities, the French foreign ministry said Tuesday.

PARIS, Aug 23 (AFP) - France, Britain and Germany have called off a planned meeting with Iran on August 31 because of Tehran's decision to resume sensitive nuclear activities, the French foreign ministry said Tuesday.

A spokesman, Jean-Baptiste Mattei, said Iran's decision to resume uranium conversion work had broken the terms of an agreement signed in Paris in November 2004 under which Tehran voluntarily suspended the activities.

The three countries, acting on behalf of the EU, this month offered Iran nuclear technology, including access to nuclear fuel, increased trade and help with Tehran's regional security concerns as part of a wide-ranging nuclear deal.

But Tehran rejected it because the European proposal was conditional on Iran's ceasing uranium enrichment, which can lead to the production of weapons-grade material. Iran then went ahead and resumed preliminary uranium conversion work.

In the package of measures, the Europeans suggested an August 31 meeting, but Mattei said they had jointly decided to abandon it because of the breach of the Paris agreement.

But he added: "This does not mean that there will not be any contacts with the Iranians."

Iranian nuclear negotiator Hossein Moussavian criticised the move, saying it was the Europeans who were reneging on the Paris agreement.

"The fact that the Europeans do not want to talk on August 31 shows that they intend to continue negotiations without respect to the Paris accord."

He said that Iran had already told the European countries that "if their proposals did not recognise Iran's rights then they would be unacceptable," quoted by the semi-official Mehr agency.

Talks with the European Union have consistently stumbled over Iran's right to uranium enrichment, which Europe would like Tehran to permanently renounce as a watertight guarantee that it will not develop nuclear weapons.

Uranium conversion is the precursor to enrichment.

French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said on August 12 that France was waiting for a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency on September 3 before deciding how to proceed.

Failure to agree could lead the Europeans to seek UN Security Council sanctions against Iran.

The United States accuses Iran of secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of its civilian atomic energy program.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Iran, IAEA, nuclear, atomic, Philippe Douste-Blazy

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