Friday, November 20, 2009

World Powers Meet About Iran Nuclear Issue

From Yahoo! News:

BRUSSELS – Representatives of six world powers met in Brussels on Friday to discuss possible measures against Tehran for its refusal to halt nuclear enrichment activities.

The European Union said senior diplomats from the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members plus Germany took part in the talks.

President Barack Obama said Thursday the six nations will develop a package of serious new punitive measures in coming weeks. He did not give details of any possible measures under consideration.

On Wednesday, Tehran indicated it would not export its enriched uranium for further processing, effectively rejecting the latest plan brokered by the International Atomic Energy Agency and aimed at delaying Iran's ability to build a nuclear weapon.

Under the IAEA plan, Iran would export its uranium for enrichment in Russia and France where it would be converted into fuel rods, which would be returned to Iran about a year later. The rods can power reactors but cannot be readily turned into weapons-grade material.

The meeting in Brussels involved political directors — Foreign Ministry officials below ministerial level, EU spokeswoman Cristina Gallach said. It was supposed to take stock of the situation, and no decisions would be made, she said.

The United States was represented by Undersecretary of State William Burns, and Russia by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov.

But on Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Manochehr Mottaki played down the threat of sanctions saying embargoes had proved ineffective in the past and that he didn't believe they would be tried again.

Meanwhile in Berlin, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said he hoped Iran would not miss the opportunity to resolve its dispute with the international community.

"I would hate to see that we are moving back to sanctions," Mohamed El-Baradei said. "Because sanctions, at the end of the day ... really don't resolve issues."

He said the IAEA had not yet received a formal reply from Tehran to its proposals, although Iranian officials had told him they would not send uranium for reprocessing abroad unless they first received the promised fuel rods.

"Well, that to me is an extreme case of distrust," El-Baradei said. "And what we are really trying to do is replace distrust by a degree of trust."

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