Iran Nuclear NewsEU3 initiative with Iran at an end - EU...

EU3 initiative with Iran at an end – EU diplomat

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Reuters: A European Union initiative to offer Iran incentives to abandon sensitive nuclear work that could give it the bomb is
at an end unless Tehran halts uranium conversion, a senior EU diplomat said on Tuesday. Reuters

By Paul Taylor

BRUSSELS – A European Union initiative to offer Iran incentives to abandon sensitive nuclear work that could give it the bomb is at an end unless Tehran halts uranium conversion, a senior EU diplomat said on Tuesday.

The diplomat told reporters the logical next step was for the International Atomic Energy Agency to report Iran’s nuclear programme to the U.N. Security Council, although it was a long way from discussing sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

“With the Iranian rejection of the European proposal and the restarting of the conversion plant in Isfahan, it did seem to us that the Paris process had ended,” he said.

An Iranian change of heart on conversion “doesn’t seem remotely likely”, he added.

His comments came on the day a global security think-tank said Iran could develop a bomb-making capability in as little as five years, although the International Institute for Strategic Studies said a 15-year timeframe was more likely.

“If Iran threw caution to the wind and sought a nuclear weapon capability as quickly as possible, without regard for international reaction, it might be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a single nuclear weapon by the end of this decade,” IISS John Chipman said in London.

U.S. and Israeli intelligence have estimated for the last decade that Iran was roughly five years away from getting a bomb so it is not clear how much progress Tehran has really made.

The EU diplomat said some European leaders were likely to talk to new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his team when they attend a United Nations summit in New York next week, since all contact with Tehran had not been broken off.

“SOFT REFERRAL”

The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s board meets in Vienna on Sept. 19. The United States and the Europeans are striving to achieve a broad consensus for reporting the Iranian case to the Security Council, but Russian and Chinese support are in doubt.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister said on Monday Moscow would oppose such a move, but the EU diplomat said he was not certain that was the Kremlin’s final word and intensive discussions were continuing with both Russia and China.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana discussed the issue with Chinese leaders at a summit in Beijing on Monday.

Iran agreed in Paris last November to suspend all activity related to uranium enrichment for the duration of negotiations with Britain, France, Germany on a long-term cooperative relationship with the EU.

The 25-nation bloc put forward a comprehensive proposal for economic, political, security and civilian nuclear cooperation last month but Iran rejected it out of hand and restarted the plant which converts uranium into gas used to make highly enriched fuel for power stations or bombs.

The diplomat said everything about Iran’s long-clandestine nuclear programme raised security concerns about its purpose.

“If there is a peaceful nuclear programme, then where are the power stations?” he said, noting that Russia had agreed to supply fuel for Iran’s only nuclear plant under construction.

Diplomats said the EU was aiming for a “soft referral” to the Security Council which would be less serious than referring a specific violation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to the supreme U.N. body.

“We don’t want sanctions, but (for) the Council to issue a political appeal to Iran to resume the suspension, comply with the Paris Agreement and resume negotiations,” another European diplomat said. “The idea is not to take it away from the IAEA but to support the IAEA.”

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