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UN SC holds urgent consultations on Iran nuclear issue

January 12, 2012, 13:36 UTC+3

According to Briens, France has “confirmed a dual approach to the Iranian nuclear issue, based on dialogue and pressure

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NEW YORK, January 12 (Itar-Tass) — The calls on Tehran to immediately suspend uranium enrichment and resume negotiations with the international “sextet” of mediators (UN Security Council member states plus Germany) were made at urgent consultations of the UN Security Council on Wednesday. The consultations were called on the initiative of France in connection with reports about the beginning of uranium enrichment works at Iran’s facility near Qom and were held behind closed doors.

French Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Martin Briens told journalists after the consultations that Iran’s actions cannot be justified by the need for peaceful uses of atomic energy and therefore they cause concern. In addition, they are “another violation by Iran of the resolution of the IAEA Board of Governors adopted on 18 November 2011, as well as six resolutions of the UN Security Council.”

According to Briens, France has “confirmed a dual approach to the Iranian nuclear issue, based on dialogue and pressure.” The French diplomat said that Paris “is continuing its efforts for beginning serious negotiations, but so far Iran has not responded to this.” At the same time France “is working on additional sanctions” against Tehran.

The French diplomat was supported by colleagues from Britain, Germany and the United States who called on Tehran to “take really serious steps to convince the international community of the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.” According to diplomats, they should include “the immediate cessation of uranium enrichment and return to serious negotiations with the ‘six’ in order to find a satisfactory solution” to the Iranian nuclear issue.

According to Russian diplomats, Moscow has “with regret and concern taken the news about the beginning of the uranium enrichment operations at the Iranian plant near the city of Qom.” Russia urges “all the parties involved in the process of settlement of the situation around Iran and its nuclear program to refrain from hasty and drastic steps that could undermine the creation of conditions for the resumption of the dialogue between the Six and Iran and continuation of Tehran’s cooperation with the IAEA for the clarification of outstanding issues.” Moscow is ready to “maximally promote this process, including in line with the proposed by Russia plan to restore confidence in the Iranian nuclear program,” the Russian Mission to the UN told Itar-Tass.

China has a position similar to Russia’s. China believes that the dispute over Iran’s nuclear issue “should be settled through consultations and negotiations.” Beijing has repeatedly stated that it opposes the imposition of unilateral economic sanctions on Iran.

The controversy over Iran's nuclear programs centres in particular on Iran’s failure to declare sensitive enrichment and reprocessing activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Enrichment can be used to produce uranium for reactor fuel or (at higher enrichment levels) for weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful, and has enriched uranium to less than 5 percent, consistent with fuel for a civilian nuclear power plant. Iran also claims that it was forced to resort to secrecy after US pressure caused several of its nuclear contracts with foreign governments to fall through. After the IAEA Board of Governors reported Iran’s noncompliance with its safeguards agreement to the UN Security Council, the Council demanded that Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment activities while Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has argued that the sanctions are “illegal,” imposed by “arrogant powers,” and that Iran has decided to pursue the monitoring of its self-described peaceful nuclear program through “its appropriate legal path,” the International Atomic Energy Agency.

After public allegations about Iran's previously undeclared nuclear activities, the IAEA launched an investigation that concluded in November 2003 that Iran had systematically failed to meet its obligations under its NPT safeguards agreement to report those activities to the IAEA, although it also reported no evidence of links to a nuclear weapons program. The IAEA Board of Governors delayed a formal finding of non-compliance until September 2005, and (in a rare non-consensus decision) reported that non-compliance to the UN Security Council in February 2006. After the IAEA Board of Governors reported Iran's noncompliance with its safeguards agreement to the United Nations Security Council, the Council demanded that Iran suspend its enrichment programs. The Council imposed sanctions after Iran refused to do so. A May 2009 US Congressional Report suggested “the United States, and later the Europeans, argued that Iran's deception meant it should forfeit its right to enrich, a position likely to be up for negotiation in talks with Iran.”

In November 2011 the IAEA released a report stating inspectors had found credible evidence that Iran had been conducting experiments aimed at designing a nuclear bomb until 2003, and research may have continued on a lower rate since that time. IAEA Director Yukiya Amano said evidence gathered by the agency “indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.” Iran rejected IAEA’s findings as “unbalanced, unprofessional and prepared with political motivation and under political pressure by mostly the United States.” The IAEA Board of Governors passed a resolution by a vote of 32–2 that expressed “deep and increasing concern” over the possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program and calling it “essential” that Iran provide additional information and access to the IAEA. The United States welcomed the resolution and said it would step up sanctions to press Iran to change course. In response to the IAEA resolution, Iran threatened to reduce its cooperation with the IAEA, though Iranian Foreign Minister Salehi played down talk of withdrawal from the NPT or the IAEA.

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