Thursday, January 12, 2006

US warning after Iran breaks seals at nuclear plant

Western governments issued stern warnings to Iran to desist from resuming its nuclear research after United Nations monitors in Vienna formally confirmed that the country's scientists had removed seals from materials at its Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

The White House said that unless Iran stepped back quickly, the issue would be referred to the UN Security Council with the possibility of sanctions or other kinds of punishment by the international community.

"If the regime in Iran continues on the current course and fails to abide by its international obligations there is no other choice but to refer the matter to the Security Council," said Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman. In London, Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, said the confirmation that the seals had been removed was of "profound concern", adding that the gathering crisis over Iran's intentions in the nuclear sphere was posing a growing threat to peace in the region. "This is enrichment," he said.

The removal of the seals could be the death knell to two-year-old talks between the Iranian regime and the governments of Britain, France and Germany, designed to limit Iran's activities to the production of energy and prevent it from weaponising its capacity. Those talks were interrupted in August last year when Iran began returning to its nuclear facilities.

"The reason it would be extremely serious if Iran was to continue in the way in which it has done - raising question after question about whether it is intent on developing a nuclear weapons facility - is that it would destabilise the whole of the region and, in doing so, threaten international peace and security as a whole," Mr Straw said...

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