Europe Seeks U.N. Action on Iran's Nuclear Move
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The foreign ministers of Europe's three biggest powers say their negotiations with Iran have reached an impasse. After meeting in Berlin, the ministers said they'd ask the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer the matter to the UN Security Council. The UN could impose sanctions on Iran for restarting its nuclear program earlier this work. NPR's Rachel Martin reports from Berlin.
RACHEL MARTIN reporting:
The foreign ministers of Germany, Britain and France have been holding talks with Iran for more than two years to clarify the intentions of its nuclear program, a program that the Europeans and the Americans fear could be used to develop nuclear weapons. In a press conference in Berlin today, German Foreign Secretary Frank-Walter Steinmeier said this week's decision by Iran to remove the seals from its uranium enrichment facilities indicates a flagrant disregard for those negotiations.
Secretary FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER (German Foreign Ministry): (Through Translator) We have decided today to inform the governor of the IAEA that our talks with Iran have reached a dead end. We'll ask the Council of Governors to now address the situation. We also want to say that we are still intent on solving the problem in a diplomatic, multilateral way and with peaceful means.
MARTIN: The IAEA has already decided that Iran is in violation of its international obligations. The next step would be to refer Iran to the UN Security Council. Javier Solana, the EU's foreign policy chief, said the concern is about Iran's intentions in developing nuclear power, and the negotiations were not an attempt to stifle the country's economic development.
Mr. JAVIER SOLANA (Foreign Policy Chief, European Union): The people of Iran, they know that we are ready not to deny their rights to have a civil program for nuclear projects. But what we cannot accept is to have this lack of parity.
MARTIN: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice weighed in on the issue, saying that Iran has passed up many incentives to limit its nuclear program, including a promise by the US to remove its block of Iran's membership in the World Trade Organization. And that while economic sanctions are not yet on the table, she said Iran's rebukes toward the international community cannot go unanswered.
Secretary CONDOLEEZZA RICE (Department of State): And the reason that people are exercised today as Iran has, in a defiant way, begun these enrichment activities again is that this could lead to the technologies that lead to a nuclear weapon. And since nobody trusts Iran's protestations that this would be a peaceful program, people are duly alarmed.
Group of People: (Chanting in foreign language)
MARTIN: Outside the Foreign Ministry building in Berlin, about 100 Iranians living in Germany waved signs and chanted against the government of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and called for an end to Iran's nuclear program. But inside Iran, even those who oppose the current government say Iran has every right to pursue a peaceful nuclear power program, says Professor Sadeq Zibakalam, a political scientist at Tehran University.
Professor SADEQ ZIBAKALAM (Tehran University): It has been gradually turned into national pride. I mean, you will come across many Iranians who are against the Islamic regime, but when it comes to the question of the nuclear issue, they say that, `Iran must go ahead with its nuclear program, and Iran must advance in nuclear industry and technology.'
MARTIN: A senior Iranian official told Iran state television that the government is not concerned about the prospect of being referred to the Security Council. Previously, the Iranians had counted on Russian and Chinese support that would block possible UN sanctions, but officials from both those countries have signaled their support for efforts to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions. Russian and Chinese officials will join American and European representatives in London next week for further discussions on Iran. Rachel Martin, NPR News, Berlin.
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