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Iran's nuclear program will have to be referred to the UN Security Council
Iran's nuclear program will have to be referred to the UN Security Council, if the country does not give up its nuclear research, a senior Japanese government official said Friday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told a news conference that Japan was disappointed by the Islamic Republic's announcement that it would resume research into uranium enrichment, which some nations fear will be used to develop nuclear weapons. The country removed the UN seals at its nuclear facilities this week thereby ending a two-year moratorium on nuclear research. "If Iran does not change its position, there will be no alternative to referring the issue to the United Nations Security Council," the official said, echoing the conclusion made by a trio of European nations that talks with Tehran seem to have come to a "dead end." The Security Council has the power to impose sanctions on Iran if it is found to have been in breach of its international commitments. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that there was "a menu of possibilities" that diplomats could pursue against the Persian Gulf country. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Thursday following a 40-minute telephone conversation with Ali Larijani, Iran's chief negotiator on the nuclear problem, that Tehran was willing to hold "constructive" talks with the European Union. Annan said the Iranian official had assured him that Iran sought talks, although within a certain timeframe. He added the Iranian "file" should remain under the jurisdiction of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, until it had exhausted every way to influence the country. Also on Friday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso said the referral to the Security Council would not necessarily entail sanctions against Iran. He also backed the position of the foreign ministers of Germany, Britain, and France, the three European countries that brokered the moratorium two years ago. The trio said Thursday that it would have to turn to the Security Council if Iran did not change its approach. Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council, said Thursday that it had never ruled out referring the matter to New York, even though it has defended Tehran's right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in the past. But, echoing other official comments about Russia's "disappointment" with the Iranian decision, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would still try to persuade Iran to re-impose the moratorium on its nuclear programs. Russia, which is helping Iran build an $800-million nuclear power plant at Bushehr, last year proposed establishing a joint venture on its own territory to enrich nuclear fuel for Iranian power plants. The EU, and the U.S. backed the idea. Iran has neither rejected nor accepted the proposal so far. Russian-Iranian talks were held in early January and are to resume later in the month.
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