Accessibility links

Breaking News

Europeans to Call Emergency IAEA Meeting on Iran


The major European powers are calling for an emergency meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency early next month on Iran.

The British Foreign Office says the meeting is being called for February 2 and 3 of the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The objective is for the IAEA to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council. The Council, in turn, could impose sanctions on Iran for restarting its nuclear program at a uranium enrichment facility.

The British statement comes after a close-door meeting in London of senior officials from Britain, France and Germany, along with their counterparts from the United States, Russia and China.

All the countries hold permanent seats on the Security Council, except for Germany.

The European countries still hold out hope for a diplomatic settlement with Iran after last week declaring negotiations had hit a dead end. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw says the Security Council does not necessarily have to impose sanctions.

"There are plenty of examples where a matter is referred to the Security Council, and the Security Council takes action, and that action is followed without the need for decisions on sanctions," he said.

Diplomats say the main focus of Monday's meeting in London was to convince Russia and China of the need to ratchet up pressure on Iran.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says his country is moving closer to the Western position on Iran. China, which buys a considerable amount of Iranian oil, is urging restraint and more negotiations with Tehran.

Iran says it wants nuclear power for peaceful, civilian purposes. But the United States and the major European Union powers suspect Iran intends to build nuclear weapons.

International concern also has risen since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently said Israel should be, in his words, "wiped off the map."