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EU Prepares UN Iran Nuclear Warning: Diplomats

The European Union will call a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog's governing board for early next week to warn Iran against restarting nuclear work that could be used to develop bombs, diplomats said on Thursday, reported Reuters.


Iran threatened repeatedly to resume uranium processing this week but apparently backed down after the EU responded by saying any resumption of nuclear fuel activities would mean an end to two years of talks on Tehran's nuclear programme.


The Islamic republic says it only wants to generate electricity but the West suspects it is trying to make bombs.


"This board meeting is just to warn the Iranians," a diplomat close to negotiations between Tehran and the EU's three biggest powers -- France, Britain and Germany -- said, adding the meeting was tentatively scheduled for Tuesday.


He said the EU was not aiming at this meeting to refer Iran to the UN Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions.


The aim was rather to caution Iran before it was able to restart the work under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has called on Iran to hold off on a restart until the middle of next week so that UN inspectors can install surveillance equipment.


"We want to have a resolution before they can take off the (IAEA) seals. It has nothing to do with the Security Council," the diplomat close to the talks said.


It was unclear whether an early resumption of suspended nuclear activities by Iran would prompt the Europeans to reconsider the need for an immediate referral to the UN Security Council.


A second diplomat close to the talks confirmed there would be a meeting early next week.


The Europeans had not, however, officially requested the meeting yet. A western diplomat close to the IAEA said they had asked the agency to prepare for a board meeting on Tuesday.


"They have asked the IAEA to make arrangements for one," he said, adding: "Everything would be set up for them to say 'we want to convene one'."


An IAEA spokeswoman declined to comment.


Handover on Friday


Iran said on Monday it had decided to restart a uranium conversion plant in the central city of Isfahan that day.


The Islamic republic initially rejected the IAEA's appeal for a delay until next week, but in an apparent climbdown on Wednesday, chief Iranian nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani said Tehran hoped to restart work at Isfahan by early next week.


Conversion is the step before enrichment, which can purify uranium to the levels needed to fuel nuclear reactors or bombs. Conversion is also one of the nuclear activities Tehran agreed to suspend under a November deal with the European trio.


The European trio hopes to present proposals for economic, political and nuclear incentives to Iran on Friday, diplomats said, in exchange for which it hopes Tehran will scrap its most sensitive nuclear activities.


"It looks as if there may well be a handover of the package tomorrow," one EU diplomat told Reuters.


In a letter to Rohani on Tuesday urging Iran not to resume conversion, the foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany said they would be seeking a special session of the IAEA board of governors "in the next few days" to discuss the way ahead.


For two years, Washington has tried to have Iran referred to the Security Council for violating its obligations under the global pact against the spread of nuclear weapons.


Its efforts were, however, blocked by other countries including the European trio, which wanted to persuade Iran to voluntarily give up all potentially weapons-related technology.


(Chinadaily.com.cn via agencies August 5, 2005)


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