EU will continue nuclear talks with Tehran


Richard Moore

A very promising report. The US-UK Axis is being increasingly isolated, it 


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EU will continue nuclear talks with Tehran
By Daniel Dombey in London
Published: August 30 2006 19:23 | Last updated: August 30 2006 23:51

The European Union is ready to continue discussions with Iran over its nuclear 
programme even though a United Nations deadline for Tehran to restrict its 
nuclear activities expires on Thursday, diplomats have told the Financial Times.

On Thursday, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN¹s nuclear monitor, 
will confirm that Tehran has refused to comply with a UN Security Council 
resolution that requires Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can 
generate both nuclear fuel and weapons grade material.

But the report is also likely to note that Tehran has not accelerated its 
nuclear programme, a fact that Russia and China, both of which are resisting 
plans to impose sanctions on Iran, are likely to emphasise.

The lack of unanimity of the Security Council ­ and the hope that Tehran may yet
agree to suspend enrichment ­ are the chief reasons why the EU is set to keep 
the contacts going.

³The 31 August date [to suspend enrichment] is important because that was the 
date set by the Security Council,² said a senior European diplomat. ³But that 
doesn¹t mean we can¹t continue any exchanges with the Iranians...We will be 
available to talk to them, there are things we are ready to pursue.²

He stressed that the EU would not enter into formal negotiations with Iran while
Tehran continued to enrich uranium, and added that the EU would seek to pursue 
³two tracks in parallel² ­ continuing contacts, while seeking to impose 
³incremental² restrictive measures on Iran.

Beijing and Moscow have agreed to ³work for² economic sanctions against Tehran 
if Iran fails to meet today¹s deadline, but in recent days both have emphasised 
that such a step may be premature

Ali Larijani, Iran¹s top security official, said on Sunday that the passing of 
the UN deadline would not mean ³the end of diplomacy².

Iran has stressed its willingness for talks, with officials floating potential 
compromises without suggesting Tehran would meet the Security Council demand it 
first suspend uranium enrichment.

Diplomats said Thursday¹s report would say that Iran was still operating only 
one large-scale ³cascade² to enrich uranium, with 164 centrifuges.

IAEA inspectors believe that with such a small number of centrifuges it would 
take at least 20 years to generate enough weapons grade material for one bomb.

In Washington, the Bush administration said on Wednesday it saw no sign that 
Iran would meet the UN deadline and that the world body should respond quickly 
with international sanctions.

³If they do not meet the requirements of the UN Security Council resolution, 
then we would expect that the parties would immediately begin formal discussions
about a resolution that would call for sanctions,² the State Department said.

Additional reporting by Gareth Smyth in Tehran and AP in Washington

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2006

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