EU foreign ministers agree to keep pressuring Iran on nukes
FMs threaten further UN sanctions if Teheran ignores demands to suspend nuclear programs, return to negotiations.
European Union foreign ministers agreed Monday to keep pressure up on Iran, warning it would pursue further United Nations sanctions if Tehran failed to abide by international demands that it suspend its nuclear activities and return to negotiations.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who chaired EU foreign ministers talks here said diplomats from the United Nations Security Council in New York were busy drafting a text for a possible resolution on further sanctions.
EU foreign ministers said in a joint statement that they will continue "to support UN measures against Tehran over its nuclear program and backed future Security Council moves to adopt further appropriate measures ... should Iran fail to comply."
Steinmeier said Germany and the five permanent members of the Security Council - the U.S., Russia, China, France, and Britain - agreed to try to come forward with a rapid resolution which would express the determination of the international community vis-a-vis the Iranian nuclear dossier.
He said all five, plus Germany were working well together.
"There is no suggestion that things are being held up in any way," Steinmeier said.
British Foreign Secretary Margaret Becket said all EU nations remained firm and united on trying to get Iran to come back to negotiations over its program, which the EU and the United States fear is being used to make nuclear weapons.
"We need to keep the pressure on Iran to come into negotiations," she said.
The EU foreign ministers called on the UN to act with the necessary firmness on Iran's nuclear program, but added the door remained open for talks to find a negotiated long-term solution.
The head of the UN's nuclear agency in Vienna said Monday Iran seemed to have paused in developing its uranium enrichment program as it awaits UN deliberations on harsher sanctions.
However, Mohamed ElBaradei warned that lack of Iranian cooperation with agency inspectors meant it had not been able to establish that Tehran's nuclear activities served purely peaceful purposes.
The UN's Security Council is demanding an immediate and unconditional stop to uranium enrichment by Iran, after which European-led negotiations over an economic reward package could begin.
Iran has long insisted it will not stop its nuclear activities as a precondition for negotiations.
Tehran's refusal to freeze all its enrichment-related activities prompted the Security Council on December 23 to impose sanctions targeting its nuclear and missile programs and persons involved in them. Back then, it gave the country 60 days to halt enrichment or face additional measures, a deadline which passed last month.