Thursday, May 05, 2005

EU, Iran nuclear talks near collapse-diplomats

Louis Charbonneau, Reuters:
Talks between Iran and the EU's three biggest powers on the future of Tehran's nuclear program are near collapse as Iran threatens to resume sensitive atomic activities, European diplomats said on Wednesday. ...

"It doesn't look good," a diplomat from one of the three nations told Reuters on condition of anonymity. "The talks could collapse." ...

Tehran is demanding to be permitted to gradually build up a commercial-scale enrichment complex under U.N. supervision that could hypothetically provide fuel for dozens of bombs annually.

The Europeans find this unacceptable, EU diplomats said.

The three European nations have also warned Iran that they would back U.S. calls to send Iran's case to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it resumed any enrichment-related work.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said "a resumption of any enrichment and reprocessing activities would be contrary to that commitment that the Iranians made."

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said in Washington that any enrichment activity by Iran -- from low-grade processing of raw uranium to its actual enrichment -- would be "completely unacceptable" to the Europeans. ...

The three European nations said in a March letter to EU President Luxembourg that it wanted Iran to continue its suspension of all uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing activities and cooperate fully with the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

"If ... Iran does not do so, then ... we shall have no choice but to support referring Iran's nuclear programme to the U.N. Security Council," the letter said.

Washington asked the three nations to prepare to refer Iran to the Security Council when the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors meets next month in Vienna.

One diplomat said EU and U.S. officials met after the latest round of EU-Iran talks ended on Friday without a deal.

"The Americans have asked the EU-3 to help set up a road map for the June (IAEA) board meeting," he said.

The IAEA's governing board meets on June 13 -- four days ahead of Iran's presidential elections -- to discuss Iran. READ MORE

Separately, intense U.S. pressure has scuppered the possible acquisition of a major Europeans plastics firm by an Iranian state-owned company, Iran said on Wednesday.

European diplomats and company officials have said many top European companies have been warned by Washington to stay away from Iran.
The Washington Times might get the "exit strategy" it wants.