Thursday, September 1, 2005

NEWPORT, Wales — The European Union yesterday urged Iran to return to the negotiating table to discuss its nuclear program and threatened to take Tehran to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions if it did not.

At a meeting of EU foreign ministers, Britain, France and Germany briefed the bloc’s nations on the collapse of negotiations with Tehran and said intervention by the United Nations could well become the only option.

“We are ready to go to New York if necessary,” said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The 25-nation European Union would give Iran up to the Sept. 19 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, to return to the negotiating table on some of its atomic activities that also can be used to make nuclear weapons. Tehran insists the program is only for generating electricity.

“We cannot take a timeout when it comes to our security,” said German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, underscoring the need for urgency.

Although the Security Council has the power to impose sanctions, China opposes bringing the issue before the council and could use its veto power to block a resolution punishing Iran.

An emergency IAEA meeting on Iran last month did not report Tehran to the council, and instead asked the nuclear agency’s chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, to report to the agency board members by tomorrow on Iran’s activities.

After discussing the issue with the foreign ministers, EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner insisted yesterday that the negotiating door remained open for Tehran.

“We are still ready to seek a negotiated solution to the nuclear issue. But the Iranians should not make the mistake of underestimating the strength of … Europe. Nobody wants to go to the Security Council, but it might become unavoidable if they don’t cooperate,” she told reporters.

In London, the National Council of Resistance of Iran said Tehran obtained 44 pounds of beryllium from China last year. Beryllium can be used in the development of nuclear weapons, reducing by as much as a third the need for enriched uranium or plutonium.

There was no comment from Iran’s government. Officials at the IAEA, which is probing Iran’s nuclear activities for signs of a weapons program, said they had no comment on the assertions.

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