Iran Nuclear NewsBritain, Iran in nuclear talks

Britain, Iran in nuclear talks

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Reuters: Foreign Secretary Jack Straw appealed to Iran to change its mind on pursuing uranium enrichment at an unannounced meeting with his Iranian counterpart on Wednesday. Reuters

UNITED NATIONS – Foreign Secretary Jack Straw appealed to Iran to change its mind on pursuing uranium enrichment at an unannounced meeting with his Iranian counterpart on Wednesday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki requested the meeting at U.N. headquarters as the board of the world nuclear watchdog was debating in Vienna a European resolution to refer Tehran’s nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council.

The three main European Union powers — Britain, France and Germany — failed to persuade Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last week to halt the conversion of uranium ore, a precursor to making enriched fuel that can be used in power stations in bombs.

Ahmadinejad then delivered an anti-Western tirade to the U.N. General Assembly, accusing the West of “nuclear apartheid” and asserting Iran’s “inalienable right” to pursue a full fuel cycle including enrichment.

“The foreign secretary urged Iran even at this late stage to take the opportunity to come into compliance,” a British spokesman told Reuters after the Straw-Mottaki meeting.

A draft resolution proposed by the EU calls on the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency to report Iran’s nuclear program, concealed for 18 years from the U.N. watchdog, to the Security Council.

Mottaki questioned why Britain thought it was necessary to press for a referral when his country had acted entirely legally, a British official said.

The EU and the United States, which suspect Tehran of seeking to develop a weapons capability, have failed to convince key nuclear powers Russia and China, as well as many non-aligned countries, to back the draft resolution.

But the British official said lobbying was still going on in Vienna and it had not yet been decided whether to press for a vote, amend the resolution or take some other course.

“For the moment, the effort to gain maximum support continues,” he said.

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