February 9th, 2005
Rice warns Iran of UN sanctions info
| Rice warns Iran of UN sanctions |
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has warned Iran it faces possible UN sanctions unless it accepts a European deal on its nuclear programme.
If Iran is "unwilling to take the deal... then the Security Council looms," Ms Rice told Fox News.
Britain, France and Germany have offered Iran trade concessions if it gives up its nuclear programme.
Ms Rice was speaking as she and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld were due in talks with European allies.
Ms Rice is meeting EU and Nato officials in Brussels, and Mr Rumsfeld is meeting Nato defence ministers in Nice.
The Secretary of State is nearing the end of an eight-day tour of Europe and the Middle East, during which she has sought to bury differences with Europe over Iraq, says the BBC's Europe correspondent Tim Franks in Brussels.
Iran has agreed to temporarily suspend its uranium enrichment activities during the negotiations process with Europe.
Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful, but the US claims Iran is on the path to developing nuclear weapons.
"They [Iran] need to hear that the discussions they are in with the Europeans are not going to be a kind of way-station, where they are allowed to continue their activities," Ms Rice said in an interview with the US television network.
"I don't know that anyone has said that as clearly as they should to the Iranians," she said.
Iran has signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which prohibits the development of atomic weapons.
The UN's Security Council has the power to impose stringent sanctions on Iran if it is found to be in breach of the treaty.
In Nice, Mr Rumsfeld is expected to call on Nato colleagues to do more for the military effort in Iraq.
Nato said it would contribute 300 personnel for a training mission, but so far there are fewer than 100 on the ground.
The US-led invasion of Iraq during US President George Bush's first term badly strained ties with Europe.
Some countries, notably France and Germany, said they would have nothing to do with operations in Iraq. Spain initially sent troops but then decided to pull them out.
Ms Rice's meeting with EU officials is expected to touch on Iran, and EU plan to lift an embargo on arms sales to China - a plan which the US deplores, our correspondent says.
| UN probe backs Iran nuclear claim |
Iran has not diverted nuclear materials it declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to make weapons, the UN watchdog has concluded.
But the IAEA said it could not rule out the existence of nuclear materials that had not been declared.
Iran has agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment activities by 22 November, following talks with the European Union, officials in Tehran say.
Iran is facing a 25 November deadline to comply with an IAEA resolution.
In a confidential report, the UN nuclear watchdog said: "All the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities."
A senior diplomat close to the IAEA said "prohibited activities" included possible work on weapons, Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.
But the report went on to say that doubt remained over Iran's nuclear programme.
"The Agency is, however, not in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran," it added.
Iran agreed to suspend its uranium enrichment activities on Sunday, after talks with three European Union countries.
The EU offered Iran increased co-operation on trade and energy in exchange for the freeze.
Chief Iranian negotiator Hassan Rohani said Tehran would suspend "almost all" its enrichment activities until a long-term agreement on Iran's nuclear programme is reached.
Iran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful, but the US says they are part of a secret weapons programme.
Successful uranium enrichment could be seen as a key stage in the development of weapons-grade nuclear material.
The Vienna-based IAEA passed a resolution in September calling on Iran to stop enriching uranium.
The findings of the report are due to be reviewed by the IAEA's board of governors on 25 November - three days after the freeze is set to begin.
Correspondents say this new deal makes it unlikely that the US will refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
| Iran hails UN nuclear 'victory' |
A top Iranian official has claimed a "great victory" over the US after the UN said it would not punish Iran's nuclear activities with sanctions.
Hassan Rohani said Iran would never give up its right to nuclear power.
He stressed during talks with European countries Iran's freeze on uranium enrichment was only temporary.
The UN atomic agency IAEA welcomed Iran's offer to freeze enrichment in a statement on Monday that did not mention any threat of future sanctions.
US President George W Bush has acknowledged Iran's latest move, but says the US wants the enrichment programme terminated, not just suspended.
At a press conference in Canada where he is on an official visit, Mr Bush described the freeze as "a positive step, but it is certainly not the final step".
Washington has accused Iran of going back on numerous promises over its nuclear activities, and had been pushing for UN sanctions.
For his part, Mr Rohani said the "whole world had turned down America's calls".
"We have proved that, in an international institution, we are capable of isolating the US. And that is a great victory," said Mr Rohani, who heads Iran's top security body.
He added that the US representative at the IAEA meeting in Vienna "was enraged and in tears, and everybody said that the Americans had failed and we had won".
It was Iran's first direct comment on the nuclear controversy since the IAEA resolution on Monday.
According to Mr Rohani, Iran's offer to suspend uranium enrichment would only apply for the duration of talks with the EU.
"We are talking months, not years," the cleric said.
Officials from the UK, Germany and France are trying to get Iran to renounce its nuclear fuel enrichment programme for good.
BBC correspondent Frances Harrison says Iran is hoping to be able to offer Europe objective guarantees to prove it is not diverting nuclear material for a secret weapons programme.
Talks between the Europeans and the Iranians are due to resume on 15 December.
Mr Rohani said "the length of negotiations must be rational and not too long".
But, he added, the talks were a "historical opportunity for Iran and Europe to prove to the world that unilateralism is condemned".
Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes and rejects accusations that it is working towards technology which could eventually be used for the production of nuclear weapons.