Reuters: Leaders of the European Union reiterated on Friday their support for possible additional U.N. sanctions against Iran if it fails to give up nuclear enrichment work and repeated an offer of support if it did so.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Leaders of the European Union reiterated on Friday their support for possible additional U.N. sanctions against Iran if it fails to give up nuclear enrichment work and repeated an offer of support if it did so.
The statement at a summit in Brussels came despite a U.S. National Intelligence Estimate this month that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, a surprise announcement diplomats say increased reluctance among already skeptical Russia and China for a third round of sanctions.
A joint statement from leaders of the 27 EU states meeting in Brussels called on Iran to provide “full, clear and credible answers” to the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to resolve questions about its nuclear activity.
They added that the council of member states “reiterates its full support to the work in the U.N. Security Council to adopt further measures” and said a decision would be taken at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers due on January 28, in the light of upcoming decisions in the U.N. Security Council.
Sanctions have been imposed because Iran has failed to heed a U.N. demand that it suspend uranium enrichment, which the West believes Tehran is trying to master so it can build bombs. Iran insists it wants only fuel for power plants.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told a news briefing the European Union had received “no assurances about uranium enrichment and the purpose of it in Iran”.
“There is no evidence of a civil nuclear program and therefore the Iranian enrichment that has been part of the work of Iran is a problem for the international community,” he said.
“We will fight for a further U.N. resolution on these issues and of course consider further sanctions in the matter.”
Iran said on Thursday its latest round of talks with the IAEA to resolve outstanding issues about its disputed atomic work were a positive step, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.
The IAEA said in a report in November Tehran was cooperating but not proactively. IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran was making “good progress” in solving questions about its plans.
Britain said on Wednesday world powers were unlikely to reach sufficient agreement in their talks on a new Iran sanctions resolution by the end of the year to start taking action at the United Nations.
World powers failed to agree on Tuesday on final elements of a new U.N. sanctions resolution against Iran over its nuclear program, but the U.S. State Department said it hoped to get a deal within weeks.
(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Keith Weir)