Iran Nuclear NewsEU, NATO ministers agree to maintain pressure on Iran

EU, NATO ministers agree to maintain pressure on Iran

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Bloomberg: Foreign ministers from European Union and NATO countries agreed to maintain pressure on Iran with a new round of United Nations sanctions because the country continues to seek material that could be used in a nuclear bomb. By Mark Deen and James G. Neuger

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) — Foreign ministers from European Union and NATO countries agreed to maintain pressure on Iran with a new round of United Nations sanctions because the country continues to seek material that could be used in a nuclear bomb.

President George W. Bush’s campaign to penalize Iran for failing to cooperate with nuclear inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency and continuing in its effort to enrich uranium faltered this week after a U.S. intelligence report said Iran had put on hold part of that program.

Success with uranium enrichment would bring Iran a step closer to producing a nuclear weapon, and the program only makes sense in the context of an attempt to build a bomb, Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht told reporters after hosting a meeting of North Atlantic Treaty Organization and European Union ministers in Brussels late yesterday.

“Everyone around the table agreed we should not change our position,” de Gucht said. “They should come into line with all the obligations of the IAEA. I think I can say this was a consensus around the table.”

China and Russia, the other permanent members of the Security Council with the right of veto, have signaled that the U.S. report may stiffen their opposition to such a resolution.

Iran suspended its atomic weapons program in 2003 and probably can’t produce enough uranium for a bomb until 2010 at the earliest, according to the National Intelligence Estimate, a summary of the findings of the 16 U.S. agencies.

`Unanimity’

“The issue for all of us is Iran’s enrichment program,” British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said at the NATO meeting resumed today. “There was unanimity around the table.”

Bush said after the report that the international community must continue to put pressure on Iran because it “could restart” development of a weapon at any time. In October, Bush warned that failure to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon risked provoking World War III.

“It is probably correct to maintain a necessary degree of pressure through the solidarity of the international community,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said. “None of that should deter us especially at this moment from trying to find a way back to the negotiating table.”

Iran denies seeking a nuclear weapon and says its enrichment program is designed to make fuel for power stations.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad hailed the U.S. intelligence report as a “victory” for his country and said Iran will continue enrichment. Addressing a rally two days ago in the western city of Ilam, he called nuclear energy the “definite right” of Iranian citizens and said they “won’t surrender one bit.”

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