Iran defies Europe by resuming nuclear work

The announcement that Iran had reopened its plant at Isfahan to resume uranium conversion sets the country on a collision course with its European negotiating partners. They have warned that they would press for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions if the authorities carried out a threat to resume the activities that could eventually result in the production of a nuclear weapon.

Britain, France and Germany called today's meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna after Iran threatened to reopen the Isfahan site. The three countries had warned Iran if it did so it would breach an agreement to suspend activities during negotiations with the EU, and risk referral to the Security Council.

But an analyst with the independent nuclear think-tank Basic (British American Security Information Council) said the European strategy was flawed and risked being counter-productive. Although US pressure at today's meeting could lead to Iran being referred to the Security Council, a Basic analyst, Paul Ingram, said that China, which holds a veto, was unlikely to back sanctions against Iran, which has become a major trading partner.

"It's a non-credible threat. Such policies are inherently dangerous because they invite people to call your bluff," Mr Ingram said.

Iran has also taken care to keep the IAEA on board, by reopening the Isfahan site in the presence of UN inspectors. The Iranians, who have the sympathy of other non-nuclear states on the 35-nation IAEA board, insist they have the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The three European countries issued statements last night regretting Iran's decision to reject without further discussion its package of economic and security proposals aimed at persuading Tehran to permanently freeze its nuclear- related activities.

The Foreign Office minister Ian Pearson said Iran's decision was damaging. Britain was "deeply concerned" by the restarting of work at Isfahan.

In a further sign of the hardening of Iran's position, a conservative close to the Iranian supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is to take over as chief nuclear negotiator. The appointment of Ali Larijani reflects the realignment of policy following the election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President.

The US has long suspected Iran of using its civilian programme as a cover to develop nuclear weapons. The latest US intelligence suggested last week that Iran was 10 years away from making the bomb, further than previously stated by US experts.

Experts believe the Iranians want to keep their options open, which is why they are continuing to insist on the right to develop their own nuclear fuel.

* A former president has disclosed that the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985 tried to develop an atomic bomb, but says the programme was scrapped when an elected government assumed power. Jose Sarney's comments were the first confirmation of the programme, which was suspected to be in operation at the time.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Direct Sales Consultants - OTE £65,000 - £100,000

£65000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national direct sales com...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Consultant - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Can you sell? Want to earn over...

Recruitment Genius: Partitioners / Carpenter / Multi Skilled Tradesmen / Decorator

£28000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Various opportunities are avail...

Recruitment Genius: Trade Marketing Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company leads the market i...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum