Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Iran to tell UN soon of nuclear work - Europe envoy

Evelyn Leopold, Reuters:
Iran is expected to notify the United Nations by the end of the week that it is resuming sensitive nuclear work, almost certainly killing off Tehran's negotiations with the European Union, a European diplomat said on Wednesday. READ MORE

The collapse of the talks likely would bring the controversy over Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions or other actions.

"The Iranians are expected to notify the International Atomic Energy Agency by the end of the week that they are resuming preparations to enrich uranium," the European diplomat said.

"This will almost certainly kill off the EU talks," said the envoy, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Britain, Germany and France, representing the European Union, have been negotiating with Tehran on a long-term agreement to define Iran's nuclear program.

In Vienna, IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the agency, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, had "received no such notification from the Iranians".

The United States believes Iran's nuclear energy program is a cover for arms development and has been pressing for Iran's case to be sent to the Security Council.

Sharing Washington's suspicion that Iran is developing atomic weapons, the EU has offered economic and political incentives if Tehran scraps its enrichment program. Iran says its program is intended to fuel only power plants, not arms.

In a deal reached with the three EU nations last November, Tehran agreed to suspend all nuclear fuel-related activities while both sides tried to negotiate a long-term solution regarding Iran's atomic ambitions.

But Iran, unhappy with the slow pace of talks, has threatened to resume some work related to enrichment, a process of purifying uranium to use in nuclear power plants or atomic weapons.

In Vienna, diplomats close to the IAEA said it appeared inevitable that Iran would restart parts of its enrichment program.