Tuesday, January 17, 2006, Brussels (Stop Fundamentalism) Britain, Germany and France, handling the Iran dossier on behalf of the EU, have presented a request to US, Russian and Chinese diplomats to hold an emergency meeting of the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 2 February, according to media reports.
The IAEA board should vote on an EU resolution referring Iran to the UN Security Council that could impose international sanctions, if Tehran fails to comply with its demands.
The row over Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program, which western states fear is aimed at developing nuclear weapons, escalated after Iran removed IAEA seals from nuclear plants last week.
The move has sparked a re-alignment of the position of Russia, which holds veto power in the UN Security Council.
Moscow, which has big stakes in Iran’s nuclear scheme, was one of the key IAEA players standing in the way of the UN security council option last year, instead offering to enrich uranium for the Iranians on Russian soil.
But Russian president Vladimir Putin indicated on Monday after talks with German chancellor Angela Merkel "As for Russia, and Germany and our European partners and the United States, we have very close positions on the Iranian problem."
The Russian leader also warned against "abrupt, erroneous steps", adding "We must move very carefully in this area."
China, which has so far also blocked UN referral, indicated last week it believed such a move could "complicate the issue."
Wang Guangya, the country’s ambassador to the UN, stated "That might make some of the parties tougher on this issue. That is our concern," Bloomberg reports.
But the spokesman for UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is quoted as saying that Britain sees progress toward a "consensus" on referring the issue to the security council, with some analysts saying China could abstain from voting in the IAEA board if Russia joins the EU and US.
Meanwhile the EU is sure of backing from Washington, which already pressed for UN referral last year.