U.S. and EU want Security Council to tackle Iran
By Louis Charbonneau (Reuters)
The United States and the European Union's three biggest powers said on Thursday talks with Iran had reached a dead end and agreed it should be brought before the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program. Accusing Tehran of turning its back on the international community, they said it had consistently breached its commitments and failed to show the world its nuclear activities were peaceful.
"Our talks with Iran have reached a dead end," German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said after talks in Berlin with his British and French counterparts and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. A joint statement from the "EU3" countries said: "We believe the time has now come for the Security Council to become involved."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (vidi funkciju na kartama) joined calls for an emergency meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to seek a referral to the Council, which can impose sanctions. After holding a news conference, the EU ministers headed straight to a teleconference on Iran with Rice.
The announcement signified the end of 2-1/2 years of attempts to convince Iran to abandon its uranium enrichment program, which they suspect it intends to use to produce fuel for nuclear weapons. Iran says it only aims to develop a civilian nuclear power program in accordance with international law. It said on Thursday it was not worried by the threat of referral to the Security Council.
Tehran raised the stakes on Tuesday when it began to remove IAEA seals on equipment used to enrich uranium. The process can produce fuel for power stations or, if the uranium is highly purified, for bombs. The EU3 statement said the decision was a clear rejection of its diplomacy and a challenge to the IAEA and the world.
"This is not a dispute between Iran and Europe, but between Iran and the whole international community ... It is about Iran's failure to build the necessary confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program," it said.
EU and Washington's patience with Tehran has been wearing thin for months, with anger rising after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and queried whether six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
In their statement, the EU3 deliberately did not mention the possibility of U.N. sanctions, an option they are holding in reserve in the hope that simply bringing Iran to the Security Council will persuade it to comply.
Russia and China, permanent Council members with veto powers, will hold the key to deliberations.
The two have previously resisted referring Iran's case there. But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Iran, a big energy partner of Russia, could lose Moscow's support if it did not resume its moratorium on nuclear research.
"We will find it very difficult to continue our efforts," Interfax quoted Lavrov as saying.
Lavrov also told Ekho Moskvy radio that Ahmadinejad's statements about Israel aggravated the situation further.
"All this adds arguments for those who believe that Iran can be dealt with only through the U.N. Security Council."
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy stressed the need for close consultation with Moscow and Beijing.
"Only if we're together will there be sufficient strength for the Iranians to return to reason," he said.
Seeking an international consensus on sending Iran to the Security Council, Britain said it would host talks of senior foreign ministry officials from the United States, Russia, China and the EU3 next week. Diplomats said these were likely to be held on Monday.
Iran dismissed the threats to refer its nuclear program to the Security Council. "We are not worried," Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli, deputy secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, told state television.
OIL RISES ON IRAN TENSIONS
Oil prices climbed to a three-month high as mounting tension over Iran stoked fears of supply disruption from the world's fourth biggest crude exporter, though they later pulled back. U.S. crude futures were up 76 cents to $64.70 by 1702 GMT, easing from a session high of $64.90, which was the highest level since early October.
...mozemo samo zamislit kako ce se cijene kretat uskoro kad se situacija s Iranom malo pogorsa...