The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Iran seeks nuke way out in talks

Tehran, Jan. 29 (Reuters): Iran today insisted the only solution to its nuclear dispute with the West was negotiations rather than referral of its atomic dossier to the UN Security Council.

Iran, which the US and other major Western powers suspect is trying to make a nuclear bomb, urged more diplomacy before talks on the issue among the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany in London on Monday.

On the same day, Iran will meet diplomats from Britain, France and Germany ' three European Union powers that have negotiated with Tehran over its nuclear programme ' in Brussels, a Tehran foreign ministry spokesman said.

Iran, which says its nuclear programme is to make electricity not a bomb, has responded positively to a Russian compromise proposal, also backed by the US, for uranium to be enriched in Russia instead of Iran.

“The only way to reach an understanding and to get out of the current situation is talks,” foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

“Referring Iran to the Security Council will not solve anything.”

France Britain and Germany have warned Iran it could be hauled before the Security Council over its disputed atomic work for a vote on economic sanctions, but they have also hoped for a diplomatic way out of the standoff.

US President George W. Bush’s administration has also urged diplomacy.

“The President has always been clear ' he has said explicitly the military option is not off the table but we are engaged in a diplomatic effort,” US assistant secretary of state Daniel Fried said today.

Asefi warned the European Union of the consequences of a Security Council referral. “Hardening the atmosphere will have no results. Imposing sanctions on Iran will pressure the EU more than us,” Asefi said.

Monday’s London talks is at foreign minister level and seeks agreement on a referral of Iran to the UN Security Council at an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on February 2.

Javad Vaeedi, deputy head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, will meet the diplomats from the three EU powers, called the EU3, in Brussels.

“Europeans should be patient and try to find a formula to resolve this nuclear issue,” Vaeedi said.

“We are determined to remove any ambiguities over our nuclear ambitions and also protect our right.”

Asefi said Tehran and Moscow were discussing the proposal under which uranium would be enriched for Iran’s nuclear reactors under a joint venture in Russia.

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