Iran Nuclear NewsUN ministerial meeting on Iranian nuclear program

UN ministerial meeting on Iranian nuclear program

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ImageAFP: Ministers from the six nations involved in talks on Iran's nuclear program will meet Tuesday at the United Nations with representatives of several Arab countries, diplomatic sources said.

ImageUNITED NATIONS (AFP) — Ministers from the six nations involved in talks on Iran's nuclear program will meet Tuesday at the United Nations with representatives of several Arab countries, diplomatic sources said.

The so-called P5-plus-1 — Germany and permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — will join Jordan, Egypt, Iraq and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Not all of the countries will be represented at the ministerial level for the ad-hoc meeting that will follow a Middle East Quartet gathering of Western and Arab diplomatic chiefs.

Representatives from the Quartet — United States, European Union, Russia, United Nations — met over dinner late Monday with several Arab ministers.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be present at the Iran discussion, as will British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and Russian Foreign Minister Sergi Lavrov, diplomatic sources said.

Germany and China will be represented by their UN ambassadors, while France will be represented by Gerard Araud, a top foreign affairs official.

"Iran's nuclear weapons program is increasingly recognized as a threat to the whole region of the Middle East," Miliband told reporters after the dinner, adding that the program could "kick start another nuclear race in the region."

Lavrov made it known that he has no intention of approving new sanctions against Iran.

"It is in everyone's interest that there would be no worsening of the situation in the area," Lavrov told reporters.

Lavrov said that Russia would participate in the meeting on Iran, but reminded that the principles that led to the formation of the P5-plus-1 group were to support the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog agency.

"We will clarify the principles that were agreed upon in the formation of the work on the Iran nuclear program … to support with all possible means via the Security Council, the UN and other channels the work of the IAEA," he said.

German magazine Der Spiegel reported over the weekend that Germany is seeking further sanctions against Iran that target the banking and transportation sectors.

The Europeans will try to reach agreement on extending sanctions against Tehran with Russia, China and the incoming US administration of Barack Obama that would not require a Security Council vote, added the report.

Der Spiegel said the goal was to provide Obama a means to pressure Iran in any future dialogue.

Obama has said that his administration would engage in direct talks with Tehran, a move that would represent a break with three decades of US policy.

The UN Security Council has already adopted four resolutions — three of which included sanctions — requiring Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment program.

But Tehran has pursued its nuclear work, which the United States and other Western powers suspect of being a cover for an atomic-weapons making program.

Iran insists its nuclear program is only for civil energy uses.

Earlier this month, IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei said that international efforts to halt Iranian nuclear activity have been a failure.

The IAEA reported in November that Iran now has more than 5,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges in operation.

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