Talks on Iranian nuclear programme stall
VIENNA: Talks on how to deal with Iran accused by the United States of working on a covert nuclear programme stalled as Washington takes a hard line and Europe pursues a policy of ‘constructive engagement,’ a Western diplomat said on Sunday.
“There’s no forward motion. We’re still stuck regarding a proposed text dealing with Iran’s violation of its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) safeguards agreement to be presented to the UN nuclear watchdog,” the diplomat said.
“The deadlock persists despite the fact that negotiations are taking place at the highest level. It’s all in the national capitals,” he said.
His comments put a damper on optimism expressed in Washington ahead of the weekend that a common approach on keeping up pressure on Iran could be found.
Tehran is suspected of hiding an atomic weapons programme. A meeting of the 35-nation board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was adjourned on Friday until Wednesday after the United States, Britain, France and Germany failed to agree on a resolution on Iran in two days of closed-door talks.
The United States, which included Iran in an “axis of evil” of countries trying to make nuclear weapons, along with North Korea and Iraq before the ouster of Saddam Hussein, has sought to get the IAEA to declare Iran in “non-compliance” with the NPT. The move could bring the issue before the UN Security Council, which could then slap sanctions on Iran. But at the meeting of the IAEA board, Britain, France and Germany, the so-called Euro 3, presented a draft resolution that goes easy on Iran, as they claim that antagonising Tehran could prompt it to cut off cooperation with the IAEA.
The IAEA board is reviewing a report from the agency’s director general, Mohamed El Baradei, that details 18 years of hidden nuclear activities by Iran, including making small amounts of plutonium and enriched uranium. Mr Baradei said the IAEA had no ‘evidence,’ however, that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, with investigations continuing. But US Ambassador to the IAEA Kenneth Brill said the IAEA was damaging its credibility since all signs from Iran’s nuclear program pointed to “just one purpose the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
The US has now dropped demands to take Iran immediately before the UN Security Council but the US-Euro 3 divide is still not being bridged, diplomats said. —AFP