EU Envoy: Iran Must Make Nuke Negotiations Progress
BRUSSELS, Belgium – The European Union's top envoy warned Iran on Wednesday that the EU wanted to see progress in international negotiations over Tehran's nuclear program or risk new sanctions by the end of the year.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, speaking to EU lawmakers at the European Parliament, said negotiations with the U.N. nuclear watchdog in Vienna and talks that he is conducting with a top Iranian official needed to move ahead.
"We can't wait forever, and we have to see those negotiations are moving ahead. ... There is a risk of more sanctions and it is a real risk, we have to get that across," Solana said.
He said he was trying to arrange new talks with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, "as soon as possible, and then to have a couple of other meetings as many as are necessary."
The EU foreign policy chief and International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei are to present reports in mid-November to the U.N. Security Council as to whether Tehran has cooperated to answer questions about its disputed nuclear program, which the EU, U.S. and others allege is being used to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is only for the generation of electricity.
"The situation is not good as you know, it's very difficult," Solana said. "There is a lot of pressure from different quarters, from the EU and elsewhere" for action on Iran.
Solana also questioned why South and Central American leaders would try to forge closer ties with Tehran after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited the regions last week.
"I would not say they are the greatest buddies, if I can put it like that, him and Latin American leaders," Solana said. "I don't think there is any great advantage for Nicaragua, Venezuela or Bolivia in building a special relationship with a country that is subject to U.N. sanctions, which is the case for Iran."
The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, with EU support, agreed last week they would delay until November a new U.N. resolution to toughen sanctions against Iran, giving it more time to answer to questions.
Several EU members led by Britain and France have been pushing for new sanctions to pressure Iran to suspend uranium enrichment. France has proposed widening economic sanctions such as the freezing of more assets and visa travel bans on government officials.
ElBaradei and Iranian officials agreed in July that Tehran would answer questions from agency experts by December on more than two decades of nuclear activity — most of it secret until revealed more than four years ago. Technical officials from the IAEA returned to Tehran this week to start probing outstanding questions, some with possible weapons applications.
Meanwhile, Solana is trying to get Larijani to suspend enrichment. The group of six nations, plus the EU has offered Iran a package of economic and political incentives to Iran and a suspension of U.N. sanctions if it ends its enrichment program.