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EU calls for ‘clear response’ to Iran nuclear stance
Brussels, DEC 11 (Agencies):
Published on 11 Dec. 2009 11:43 PM IST
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European leaders will support new sanctions against Iran on Friday, warning that Tehran’s refusal to negotiate over its nuclear programme must be met with a “clear response”. In a draft statement in Brussels, the leaders of the 27 European Union nations announce their readiness to back moves by the United States, Britain and France for fresh measures at the UN Security Council. “Iran’s persistent failure to meet its international obligations and Iran’s apparent lack of interest in pursuing negotiations require a clear response, including through appropriate measures,” the draft document said. “Consistent with the dual-track approach, the European Union would support action by the UNSC (Security Council) if Iran continues not to cooperate with the international community over its nuclear programme.” Many in the West suspect the Islamic republic is developing technology to enrich uranium to highly refined levels to covertly build a nuclear bomb. Iran says it is working on a civil energy programme and rejects attempts to force it to stop enrichment or farm out enrichment work abroad to fuel a research reactor in Tehran, in a plan pushed by the UN nuclear watchdog. Should the United Nations move toward punitive action against Iran, the draft statement said, “the European Union stands ready to take the necessary steps to accompany this UNSC process.” The leaders, clearly frustrated by what officials claim is Tehran’s nuclear negotiating brinkmanship, will task EU foreign ministers to study options for new steps when they meet in Brussels on January 25. The text does not use the word “sanctions”, and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, whose country holds the EU rotating presidency until the end of the year, warned against brandishing any threat that could not be backed up. Iran is already labouring under three sets of UN sanctions, and Bildt urged his EU counterparts to act cautiously as they ramp up pressure to persuade Tehran to stop enrichment in exchange for economic and political incentives. “It is one of the instruments that is very easy to talk about, but you have to be very careful when you implement. It is very, very simple to shoot yourself in the foot,” he said on Thursday. “We should discuss whether it is implementable, whether it is effective and whether it contributes to resolving the problem,” he said. Despite being routinely frustrated by the slow pace of progress in three years of nuclear talks, the EU leaders’ draft statement said: “The offer of negotiations remains on the table.” In New York overnight, Britain’s UN Ambassador Mark Grant said talks on new sanctions would start “at the beginning of the new year” if Tehran fails to provide reassurance about the peaceful nature of its nuclear ambitions.

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