Fresh Iran talks call rejected

France has joined Britain and the US in rejecting an Iranian proposal to resume talks over its atomic programme, saying Tehran must first return to a full suspension of sensitive nuclear work.

    Iran insists it has no intentions of developing atomic bombs

    "The unilateral resumption of sensitive activities announced by Iran on 9 January means it is not possible for us to meet in satisfactory conditions to pursue these talks,"  Denis Simonneau, a French Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Wednesday.
    "Iran must first return to a full suspension of these activities."
    Speaking in Moscow later on Wednesday Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French foreign minister, called for "rapid and firm" action to persuade Iran to suspend its contested activities and resume "the path of negotiations".
    "The international community must be as united as possible, but must also be able to take rapid and firm action," he told reporters as he began a two-day visit expected to focus on the Iranian crisis.

    Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state and Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief also weighed in on Wednesday saying the Iranians had yet to show they were ready to deal with Western fears that they were seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
    Western fears

    "The unilateral resumption of sensitive activities announced by Iran means it is not possible for us to meet in satisfactory conditions to pursue these talks"

    Denis Simonneau,
    French foreign ministry spokesman 

    Rice said the message from Washington's European allies, which had been negotiating with Tehran, was "there is not much to talk about" after Iran moved to resume sensitive nuclear research last week.
    "I think it's up to the Iranians to demonstrate that they are not just talking but they are serious," Rice told reporters before meeting with Solana at the State Department.
    "It was the Iranians who walked away from the negotiations, who broke the moratorium (on nuclear activities)," Rice said of the effort led by Britain, France and Germany to resolve the crisis.
    Meanwhile the Vienna-based UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) announced they would meet on February 2 to discuss how to respond after Iran last week broke seals on nuclear facilities in order to resume fuel work.
    IAEA meeting

    The IAEA meeting was requested by the European troika of Britain, France and Germany, who said last week that more than a year of talks aimed at persuading Iran to provide guarantees of a peaceful programme had reached a "dead end".
    Tehran asked on Tuesday to meet with the EU troika and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, a move already dismissed by Britain as "vacuous".
    Solana, at the US State Department said the EU had received a letter from Iran's national security adviser requesting a resumption of the discussions on a package of economic and other incentives for Tehran that began more than a year ago.
    "We replied that it doesn't make much sense to have another meeting if there is nothing new in what they are going to put on the table," Solana said. France and Britain have already spurned the Iranian offer.
    Diplomatic strategy

    Rice blames Iran for the
    breakdown in talks  

    "I think the position now is what we have said, ... which is to have a decision to call for an extraordinary meeting in Vienna of the (IAEA) agency and then to refer the dossier to the Security Council," Solana said.

    Solana said the Europeans and Americans would fan out across the world in a lobbying effort ahead of an eventual emergency meeting of the 35-member IAEA board that the EU-3 has sought for 2-3 February in Vienna.
    He said the allies had decided on a "division of labour, so that every member of the board of governors is aware of the importance of the decisions which are going to be taken in the extraordinary meeting". 
    Nicholas Burns, the US State Department's number three, was in India at the start of a tour of the subcontinent. Joseph Burns, undersecretary for arms control, was to have talks in Moscow and Tokyo.
    John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations and a past critic of the world body, said the showdown with Iran was a key test for the Security Council and there was no guarantee of a consensus. 

    SOURCE: Agencies


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