TEHRAN, Iran (Agencies) – The chances of Iran being referred to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program are slim, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told state radio Wednesday.
Mottaki did not give a reason for his view, but emphasized that Iran wanted to restart negotiations with the three European powers, Britain, France and Germany.
The European states, with U.S. backing are calling for a Feb. 2 meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N. body, to discuss taking action against Iran following its decision earlier this month to break IAEA seals on its nuclear equipment and resume small-scale enrichment of uranium, a process that can produce material for atomic reactors or bombs.
A copy of a draft resolution for the meeting, leaked to The Associated Press in Vienna, says Britain is proposing that the 35-nation IAEA refer Iran to the Security Council, recommending that it press Tehran “to extend full and prompt cooperation to the agency” on its nuclear activities.
However, Russia and China are wary of Security Council involvement, and other members of the IAEA board, such as Egypt, are also adopting a cautious approach.
“In view of the overall situation, we regard the possibility of the hauling of Iran’s nuclear case to the Security Council to be weak,” Mottaki told Iran radio.
“During the past ten days we have tried to relay our message to all relevant parties, including the Europeans, about readiness of Iran to negotiate on the production of nuclear fuel.”
Mottaki said he hoped European countries would avoid taking steps that could only worsen the current situation, an apparent reference to the talk of sanctions in the United States and Europe.
The chief of France’s defence staff said Wednesday that using military force against Iran to prevent it pursuing its nuclear programme would be “completely mad”.
General Henri Bentegeat said the idea of Iran possessing a nuclear weapon was “a real nightmare” but added that the way for a negotiated solution remained open. “I don’t think it would be reasonable to envisage military action against Iran to prevent it having this nuclear programme,” Bentegeat told Europe 1 radio.
“That would create a dreadful drama in the Middle East … I think that at the moment it would be completely mad,” he said. “Maybe one day we will get to that point. But today it is exclusively the diplomats who are having their say.”
“There are still paths of negotiation which have not been explored,” Bentegeat said. “Russia in particular is offering help to find a solution to the problem.”
Russia has proposed a compromise under which Iran would send its uranium to Russia for enrichment.
The United States accuses Iran of trying to secretly build nuclear weapons – a charge Iran denies. Britain, France and Germany, with U.S. backing, have been trying to persuade Iran to import nuclear fuel, but Iran has rejected this.
On Saturday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denounced the Western threat to refer his country to the U.N. Security Council, saying the international community had no legal basis for restricting Tehran’s right to nuclear research.