EU Hints at Freezing Nuke Talks with Iran
The European Union has reacted nervously to Iran president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, amid fears he may resist international efforts to check the country’s nuclear programme.Europeans are now tying human rights and the nuclear issue together again.
Ahmadinejad has insisted that Iran will not give up its nuclear technology, but said he would continue talks with the EU aimed at ensuring any nuclear programme is purely peaceful. Franco Frattini, European commissioner for justice and security issues, said the EU could “freeze” talks with Iran unless Ahmadinejad makes an clear commitment to continue discussions with the bloc’s three biggest countries on the nuclear issue.
“The reformists have suffered a worrying defeat,” said Frattini, a former Italian foreign minister who is in charge of mostly internal issues and not the EU’s external relations. “From the new President Ahmadinejad we are waiting for clear words on human rights and the nuclear issue. But if the replies are negative, the European Union will have no choice but to freeze dialogue with Iran,” Frattini told Italy’s La Repubblica daily.
Later, in his first news conference since winning Friday’s presidential election, Ahmadinejad said he intended to keep talking with Europe. “With preserving national interests and by emphasising the right of the Iranian nation for using peaceful nuclear technology, we will continue the talks,” he said. Iran needed nuclear technology “for energy and medical purposes” he said. “We shall carry on with it.”
Frattini called on Ahmadinejad to commit to the next round of talks which, he said, his predecessor Mohammad Khatami had been willing to hold with the EU in September.
“The litmus test for Ahmadinejad will be this: if he cancels that appointment it will then be complicated to proceed with global negotiations.” READ MORE
At the last round of talks at the end of May, both sides agreed a two-month breathing space ahead of the election. A spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said it was “too soon to say” what would happen now.