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Britain, France, Germany Give Conditions for Support of UN Action Against Iran

Britain, France and Germany say they will support referring Iran to the Security Council if there is no agreement on its nuclear program. However, they still hold out hope for a diplomatic solution after several months of talks.

The three countries have been negotiating with Iran since December on behalf of the European Union. In a letter to update the EU on developments they say, "progress is not as fast as we would wish."

They also say that if Iran continues the suspension of all enrichment and reprocessing activities, and cooperates fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, they believe the issue can be resolved at that level.

But if this approach does not work, the letter goes on to say, "we shall have no choice but to support referring Iran's nuclear program to the U.N. Security Council."

The United States accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons, and has also threatened to go to the Security Council. Iran, however, maintains its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Tehran has previously said it hopes to see concrete results from its talks with Britain, France and Germany. However, Daniel Gros, director of the Center for European Policy Studies in Brussels, says the outlook for a diplomatic solution is poor.

"It's bound to fail in the long run because Iran sits in a very unstable neighborhood,” said Mr. Gros. “Its neighbors [Pakistan] have nuclear weapons. Its main declared enemy [Israel] has nuclear weapons. And therefore it's quite clear that the leadership of that country must perceive that it also has a right to acquire nuclear weapons."

Iran has voluntarily stopped uranium enrichment activities while in talks with the EU, but it has also declared it will not permanently give up the right to pursue the program. Enriched uranium can be used in weapons as well as for civilian purposes.

Diplomats say Washington has agreed on a joint approach with the European Union to the dispute. Under this plan Washington would offer modest economic incentives to Iran if it permanently halts its enrichment program. The EU is also offering economic benefits in its search for a diplomatic solution.