Thu, Sep 14, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Major powers unable to reach consensus on Iran

AFP , VIENNA

Divisions between world powers on how to crack down on Iran's atomic program were visible at a UN nuclear agency meeting as they failed to issue a joint statement.

"The United States was too tough," a Western diplomat told reporters.

The divisions came as the EU was set yesterday to tell Tehran it has an international obligation to suspend uranium enrichment.

Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US have offered Iran talks on trade and other benefits if Tehran will first suspend enrichment.

The US, which charges that Iran is hiding secret work to make nuclear weapons, is pushing for UN sanctions.

But top Iranian nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani offered over the weekend to consider a temporary halt in uranium enrichment, in talks with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Vienna. Larijani are scheduled to hold more talks today.

The US State Department on Tuesday denied the reports of the Iranian offer.

"To the best of my knowledge, there's been no Iranian proposal [and] there's been no change in the Iranian position," said Tom Casey, a State Department spokesman.

The Western diplomat told reporters that Russia and China want to see how the Larijani-Solana talks play out.

"This is what Iran wants with its tactics; to divide the international community," the diplomat said.

Kremlin foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko said there was no hurry to decide.

But US ambassador to the IAEA, Gregory Schulte told reporters the six world powers were united.

The six all "want to see a full and verified suspension and that means that we would expect all the enrichment activities to be suspended. And we would want to have the IAEA verify that the suspension is in fact taking place," Schulte said.

He said the six were very clear on this and that if Iran does not suspend, "the Security Council has already made it clear its intention to move forward with sanctions."

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