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EU in quandary over Iran's nuclear program

Newport, Wales, Sept 2, IRNA-Officials attending an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Wales Thursday were at pains to stress that there was no immediate wish to confront Iran over its nuclear program.

A spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry suggested that there would be no warning issued at their two-day meeting in Newport, South Wales.

"The current approach is not one for confrontation," she told journalists at a briefing on the sidelines of the conference.

The policy, she said, was to "ask Iran to accept the EU proposals and resume its suspension of enriching uranium."

The foreign ministers' meeting, which is being held under the British presidency, comes ahead of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) presenting its report on Iran this Saturday.

Foreign Secretary Jack Straw was reported to be seeking an international consensus ahead of the next scheduled board meeting of the IAEA in Vienna on September 19.

"We should take stock of Iran and discuss how we might best pursue the nuclear file over the coming weeks," Straw said in a letter to his EU counterparts leaked to the Financial Times.

The French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman confirmed that the EU was aiming to present a collective position at the IAEA meeting, which is believed to have been delayed because of some members of its 35-member board wanting to digest the contents of Saturday's report.

The report is expected to counter US accusations that Iran has a nuclear weapons program by confirming that traces of enriched uranium found by IAEA inspectors on centrifuge parts were contamination from imports.

The evidence is seen complicating efforts to persuade Iran to give up its enrichment activities, which Iran has already partly resumed.

The French spokeswoman refused to confirm that the EU would press for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council, but repeated that ministers have already warned of the "next step" if there was a continuing refusal to resume the suspension.

Arriving for the meeting Thursday, the EU's High Representative for a Common Security and Foreign Policy Javier Solana told journalists that there would be support for referring Iran to the United Nations over its nuclear activities "if necessary." "If the situation continues," he said, "we will go to the Security Council, but we will have to discuss that today."

The problem for the EU is that its inability to broker a deal with Iran over its Paris Agreement is seen as a failure for the 25-nation group to act as an influential force on the world stage and as a counter to the US setting the agenda.

There are also serious ramifications if Iran is referred to the UN and the Security Council remains again divided as happened over the Iraq war.

... Payvand News - 9/2/05 ... --

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