Saturday, January 14, 2006

Major Powers to Meet Over Iran Nuclear Crisis

Sunday Times:
The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany will hold talks in London on Monday to plan a pivotal meeting on the Iran nuclear crisis, a European diplomat said.

Senior foreign affairs officials from the six nations will try to set the date for a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog, which has the power to refer Iran to the Security Council, the diplomat said. Iran provoked a furious international criticism when it broke International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seals on Tuesday at three nuclear plants to resume uranium enrichment research. Enriched uranium can be used as fuel for nuclear power stations, but in its highly enriched form can be used for the explosive core of atomic weapons.

The London talks will bring together the major European powers that have negotiated with Iran -- Britain, France and Germany -- along with China, Russia and the United States. A meeting of the board of IAEA could be called for the end of January or beginning of February, according to several sources here. According to those sources, the European nations and the United States want to take a fortnight to "establish a coalition" and convince China and Russia to take Iran to the Security Council where sanctions could be applied. READ MORE

Tehran's new ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asgar Soltanieh, said Iran wanted to carry on negotiating with the Europeans, who have declared the talks at a dead end. "We are determined to continue our work, our full co-operation with the agency," he told a news conference at the IAEA headquarters. "We are a people for dialogue, for negotiation," he said, adding "we warmly welcome the opportunity to negotiate with the Europeans." Soltanieh said there would be a second round of negotiations with the European Union troika of Britain, France and Germany, although he did not give a date.

It was unclear what action the Western powers would take even if the matter reaches the Security Council. France and Germany were reluctant to speak about economic sanctions against Iran ahead of the IAEA meeting. "For the moment we believe that this is premature," German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Jaeger said when asked whether European nations wanted the Security Council to impose sanctions on Tehran.

"We first want to speak to our relevant partners," Jaeger said. France said the question of sanctions was "premature", pointing out that it wanted to "continue consultations" with Russia, China and its European partners on the issue.
The speed at which the international community is acting is unusual.