Monday, October 10, 2005

U.S. and EU3 Urged to Remain United on Iran

The United States and Europe must maintain a united front to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions in the face of likely efforts by Tehran to sow division, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Monday.

Kurt Volker, a senior official responsible for Europe and Eurasia in the U.S. State Department, said it was vital that Germany, France and Britain -- known as the EU3 -- and the United States agree to stick together on Iran.

"I think the Iranians are deeply interested in trying to find divisions between the United States and the EU3, or even within the EU3," Volker said.

"So they will take a small step and see how people react. I think it's very important that we react in a unified way that makes clear what it is we expect the Iranians need to do. That is in fact what we are doing."

Washington and the EU have prepared the way for the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to send Iran to the U.N. Security Council next month for possible sanctions for violating international obligations.

The United States and its European allies argue Iran is making atomic fuel for use in weapons, but Tehran says its nuclear programme is dedicated solely to generating electricity.

"The Iranians know what they need to do," Volker said. "It's not a secret. We haven't been doing this privately, but in a very public way. If they come forward and say 'Ok we accept that as a basis and are prepared to talk on how to do this' I think we would all engage immediately.

"But at the same time I don't think we are going to be diverted, or distracted or divided by half-steps or small steps or probing of our position." READ MORE

He said the United States would work closely with the EU3.

"We need to be careful and smart. We need to be as effective diplomatically as we can. And we also need to be prepared to go on to further steps, to go on to the U.N. Security Council if it seems a purely diplomatic approach is not working. That's a uniformly shared view."