Plan For Implementing U.N. Sanctions Against Iran Approved

Monday, February 12th 2007, 6:11 am
By: News On 6

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ European Union foreign ministers approved plans Monday for implementing U.N. sanctions against Iran, a move that is meant to punish Tehran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

The United Nations Security Council agreed in December to impose sanctions targeting people and programs linked to Iran's nuclear program, which the EU and others fear is geared toward making weapons.

The council also gave Iran two months to return to negotiations. Talks collapsed a year ago over Tehran's refusal to suspend enrichment, a potential pathway to developing nuclear arms.

In the first negotiations since then, EU officials met Sunday with Iran's top national security official Ali Larijani.

``It was a good meeting, but Iran knows what is our position,'' said Javier Solana, the EU's foreign police chief. ``We are open to negotiation, but Iran knows what we want them to do.''

Monday's decision means that all 27 EU governments will implement regulations imposing the U.N. sanctions, which include a ban on selling materials and technology that could be used in Iran's nuclear and missile programs and a freeze on the assets of 10 Iranian companies and individuals.

A dispute between Spain and Britain over how the disputed territory of Gibraltar would implement the sanctions had held up the deal.

The U.N. Security Council imposed limited sanctions to punish Iran for defying a resolution demanding that it suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can produce material to fuel nuclear reactors or to build bombs.

The EU already has in place a de-facto 10-year ban on the sale of weapons to Iran. Its foreign ministers reiterated that a package of economic incentives remains on offer if Tehran abandons nuclear enrichment.

Solana and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier held talks Sunday with Larijani.

At a security conference in Munich, Larijani said Iran was ready to restart negotiations but said it would not suspend its nuclear program as a precondition for talks.

The head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, Mohamed ElBaradei, on Sunday welcomed Iran's willingness to resume negotiations with the West on its uranium enrichment plans, but said nothing short of ``full transparency'' on Iran's part will bring the two sides to the negotiating table.

Elbaradei was in Brussels meeting with Belgian officials and hopes to meet soon with Larijani.

``I am still hopeful that they will move forward to try and find a way to get into negotiation. He mentioned that they are ready to work with the agency, and I think that is positive,'' ElBaradei told Associated Press Television News.

``The whole problem started with the outstanding issues about the nature of the program so I welcome any move by Iran to try to work with the agency ... I still hope that they will try through dialogue to create the conditions to go back into negotiations.''