01222018Mon

Key EU powers weigh bringing Iran nuclear issue to UN panel

Reuters: VALKENBURG, the Netherlands -- Major European powers were discussing yesterday whether to take Iran to the UN Security Council amid frustration at its failure to cooperate fully with UN efforts to make sure it is not secretly trying to develop atomic weapons. Reuters

By Paul Taylor

VALKENBURG, the Netherlands -- Major European powers were discussing yesterday whether to take Iran to the UN Security Council amid frustration at its failure to cooperate fully with UN efforts to make sure it is not secretly trying to develop atomic weapons.

Diplomats said that despite gloom over Iran's lack of transparency, most European Union states opposed escalating the issue to the Security Council for the moment.

Britain and Germany, which with France have tried to coax Tehran into halting uranium enrichment and complying fully with its treaty obligations, said the idea of referring Iran to the Security Council for possible sanctions was under review.

''We have all been perplexed and saddened that the Iranian government has not completed all the tasks it said it would," said Jack Straw, Britain's foreign secretary.

Asked about US pressure on Britain, France, and Germany to join in bringing Iran before the Security Council, he said, ''That . . . is an issue which is currently being discussed amongst the EU3 and with other partners, and I'm not going to anticipate the decision there."

Washington accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, while the oil-producing Islamic Republic insists its program is purely for peaceful purposes.

Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of Germany said Iran was only partially fulfilling its pledges to the EU3 and there was a danger it would miscalculate.

Asked whether Tehran should be taken to the Security Council, he said, ''That could become a subject, but the consequences of all these steps have to be very carefully considered."

The EU ministers unanimously agreed there should be no more nuclear powers in the world and Iran must cooperate fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

''We want to send out a very strong signal that we mean business," said Foreign Minister Bernard Bot of the Netherlands, who chaired the meeting.

Straw said the latest report by the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, contained ''clear reservations" about the nature of Iran's nuclear program.

Several diplomats in Vienna said the European trio were preparing to draft a resolution to be presented to the IAEA board of governors when it begins meeting Sept. 13.

''The idea would be to balance skepticism about Iran's nuclear program with criticism of their behavior, " a diplomat on the 35-member board said.

US Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton said: ''There comes a point when you have to say the nuclear nonproliferation treaty is going to be left in

shreds and tatters if we don't do something about the Iranians."

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