EU set to pressure Iran

European Union foreign ministers will adopt a plan demanding Iran “urgently and unconditionally” accept tougher inspections of its alleged nuclear programme when the 15 ministers meet on Monday in Brussels.

    Solana drafted the plan, with the
    most serious EU warning to Iran

    The plan, drafted by EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, will link compliance to the demand with a trade deal.

    A statement drafted for the ministers said, while Iran had the right to develop nuclear energy “the nature of some aspects of this programme raises serious concern.”

    It will be the most serious warning that the EU has sent Tehran since it began negotiating a trade and co-operation agreement late last year.

    The EU plan coincides with a meeting next week of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) governing board to discuss its report, calling for further inspections into Tehran’s alleged nuclear programme.

    Iranian rejections

    Iran says its nuclear programme is for generating electricity. The United States accuses Tehran of developing nuclear weapons, an allegation Iran strongly denies.

    Washington is pressing its allies to increase pressure on the Islamic Republic over what the US claims is a secret drive for nuclear weapons.

    But Iran has every right to benefit from atomic energy, said former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani.

    Speaking during a Sunday visit to an aeronautics factory, Rafsanjani said Tehran's foreign policy was "purely defensive" and it was necessary to develop the country's defences.

    "In today's world powers like the United States attack other countries without calculation," he said.

    EU global role

    The EU action plan will also aim to show how serious the bloc is about fighting the spread of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by linking diplomatic action and financial boosts with arms inspections.

    “The EU will consider the introduction of an effective stick-and-carrot policy linked to non-proliferation commitments in its relations with third countries,” the plan says.

    EU officials said the WMD plan was part of the development of the first European security strategy, on which Solana will brief ministers on Monday.

    “If the EU is to be taken seriously by the United States, it needs to present a robust and serious response to a changing world,” said a senior diplomat.

    The EU ministers will also approve a draft declaration, committing the bloc to admitting former Yugoslav republics to the EU grouping, and increasing aid to prepare the Western Balkans for eventual membership.


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