Iran Nuclear NewsEU wants Security Council to tackle Iran impasse

EU wants Security Council to tackle Iran impasse

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Reuters: The European Union’s three biggest powers said on Thursday that talks with Iran had reached a dead end and agreed it should be hauled before the United Nations Security Council over its nuclear program. By Louis Charbonneau

BERLIN (Reuters) – The European Union’s three biggest powers said on Thursday that talks with Iran had reached a dead end and agreed it should be hauled before the United Nations Security Council over its nuclear program.

“Our talks with Iran have reached a dead end,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after talks in Berlin with his British and French counterparts and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

A joint statement from the “EU3” countries said: “We believe the time has now come for the Security Council to become involved.”

They said they would call for an extraordinary meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to seek a referral to the Council, which has the power to impose sanctions.

Oil prices climbed a dollar to a three-month high as mounting tension over Iran stoked fears of a supply disruption from the world’s fourth biggest crude exporter. London Brent crude rose 97 cents to $63.14 by 1544 GMT.

The move by the EU3 signified the end of 2-1/2 years of diplomatic effort to convince the Islamic republic to abandon its uranium enrichment program, which they suspect it intends to use to produce fuel for atomic weapons.

Iran says it only aims to develop a civilian nuclear power program in accordance with international law.

Tehran raised the stakes in its nuclear standoff with the West on Tuesday when it began to remove IAEA seals on equipment used to enrich uranium. The process can produce fuel for power stations or, if the uranium is highly purified, for bombs.

The EU3 statement said the decision was a clear rejection of its diplomacy and a challenge to the IAEA and the world.

“This is not a dispute between Iran and Europe, but between Iran and the whole international community … It is about Iran’s failure to build the necessary confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program,” it said.

Iran has completed the removal of U.N. seals on its nuclear fuel research sites, but will need time to refurbish machinery before it can start enriching uranium, a Western diplomat said.

VETO POWERS

Russia and China, permanent Security Council members with veto powers, will hold the key to deliberations there on how to deal with Iran. Both countries have previously resisted sending Iran to the Security Council over the nuclear dispute.

But British Foreign Minister Jack Straw said earlier he believed Moscow’s position was close to Britain’s.

“Russia, too, has been extremely helpful. We’ve consulted with them very closely. It’s for them to say what their position is, but I think you’ll find they’re in a very similar place to us,” said Straw.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Ekho Moskvy radio his country, a big energy partner of Iran, was concerned about its latest moves. He said Moscow would do its best to persuade Tehran to renew its nuclear moratorium.

Russia is building a $1 billion nuclear reactor at Bushehr in Iran. China imports significant amounts of Iranian oil.

China said it hoped Iran would return to talks on the nuclear dispute and urged all parties to exercise restraint.

“We hope Iran can do more to promote mutual confidence between itself and the EU3, and return to negotiations,” a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, Kong Quan, said.

Seeking an international consensus on sending Iran to the Security Council, Britain said it would host talks involving the United States, Russia, China and the EU3 next week.

(Additional reporting by Sebastian Alison in Brussels, Oleg Shchedrov in Moscow and Madeline Chambers in London)

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