Iran Nuclear NewsEU wants UN to take up Iran nuclear issue...

EU wants UN to take up Iran nuclear issue -Germany

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Reuters: European powers want Iran sent to the U.N. Security Council, after a U.N. watchdog said Tehran had resumed work that could be used to make nuclear arms, but will not at first seek sanctions, a German negotiator said on Wednesday. Reuters

By Louis Charbonneau

BERLIN – European powers want Iran sent to the U.N. Security Council, after a U.N. watchdog said Tehran had resumed work that could be used to make nuclear arms, but will not at first seek sanctions, a German negotiator said on Wednesday.

It was the first confirmation, since the nuclear watchdog confirmed last week Iran had resumed uranium processing work, that Europe would support U.S. calls for such a referral.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna confirmed Iran had resumed uranium processing work, ending a suspension of sensitive atomic work that was the cornerstone of a November 2004 agreement with France, Britain and Germany.

The Berlin Foreign Ministry official said the IAEA, whose board meets on Sept. 19, should ask the Council to call on Iran to suspend the work.

“We are unanimous in our assessment of the way forward that following what has happened, now it should be for the board of governors of the IAEA to report the issue to the Security Council,” Ruediger Luedeking told an audience at the American Academy in Berlin.

The IAEA report, released to its 35 board members on Friday, said that since resuming work last month Iran had produced nearly seven tonnes of uranium gas, which can be purified into fuel for a single nuclear weapon.

Luedeking, a member of Germany’s negotiating team in the EU-Iran talks, said the EU big three were negotiating with other IAEA members to convince them to report the issue to the Council, which has the power to impose economic sanctions.

Luedeking, deputy head of the ministry’s arms control and disarmament commission, said they would not immediately seek sanctions, but Council backing for the IAEA’s calls that Iran freeze its uranium enrichment programme and resume negotiations.

He said reporting Iran to the council would be “not so much in order to trigger an automatic development leading up to economic and other sanctions”.

Russia, which is helping build a nuclear plant in Iran, said on Monday it opposed reporting Tehran to the council. It has a veto on the council and could block any move to sanctions.

Luedeking said the Council could “echo and endorse the calls that the (IAEA) board of governors has made on Iran and thereby lending those calls the weight of the Security Council and hopefully get a new impetus to a negotiated settlement”.

U.S., EU AGREE ON WHAT TO DO WITH IRAN

The EU broke off talks with Iran after it resumed uranium processing work at a plant in Isfahan, which converts uranium into a gaseous form that is fed into centrifuges. The centrifuges can produce fuel for nuclear energy or weapons.

Iran rejects U.S. and European suspicions that it is trying to develop the capability to produce atomic weapons and has accused the EU trio of trying to rob it of its sovereign right to a full-scale nuclear programme. Tehran says its nuclear ambitions are limited to generating electricity.

Luedeking said the United States and the Europeans agreed on how to proceed with Iran and the challenge would be to convince developing countries in the non-aligned movement, which comprise around a third of the IAEA board, that it was time to get the council involved.

“The ball is now in the IAEA board of governors’ hands,” Luedeking said.

The EU trio has been negotiating with Iran for two years to persuade it to abandon its uranium enrichment programme in exchange for economic and political incentives, but Tehran rejected the EU’s offer last month and resumed work at Isfahan.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said in his report last week that after two and a half years of intensive inspections his agency was “still not in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran”.

On Monday British and German officials had toned down rhetoric and called for more diplomacy.

Wolfgang Gerhardt, who could become Germany’s foreign minister after the Sept. 18 general election, said Iran should not be referred to the Security Council.

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