Tuesday, October 03, 2006

EU-Iran talks appear to have failed

GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press: NEW YORK (AP) -- Iran's refusal to freeze uranium enrichment has sabotaged talks meant to defuse the standoff over its nuclear program, opening the way for the U.N. Security Council to start considering sanctions next week, senior U.N. diplomats said Tuesday.

The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity, citing agreement not to publicly pronounce the talks dead before a final attempt by European Union envoy Javier Solana and Ali Larijani, Tehran's chief nuclear negotiator, to bridge differences in a phone call scheduled for Wednesday.

On Tuesday, another diplomat said Larijani - considered a moderate - told Solana he had been unable to sell the concept of even a limited enrichment freeze to the more hard-line leadership in Tehran. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had said as much during the weekend, telling professors at Tehran University that Iran would not suspend enrichment for a single day.

Wednesday's planned Larijani-Solana phone call is to be followed by a meeting Friday in London by the foreign ministers of the five Security Council nations and Germany or their senior representatives. Then, the Security Council could meet as early as Monday to start work on a resolution imposing the first of a series of sanctions meant to make Iran turn course. One of the diplomats said Western council members - the United States, Britain and France - favor an embargo on sales of nuclear or missile technology to Tehran as a first step, to be followed by others, including travel bans on Iranian officials and the freezing of their assets...

In other news:

BBC- Key powers to seek Iran sanctions: The US and key EU powers will seek a fresh UN resolution imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear policy. The move comes after EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana concluded that Iran was not going to suspend uranium enrichment, said a senior UK official.

AP-Oil Prices Fall Below $59 a Barrel: Oil prices settled at a seven-month low below $59 a barrel Tuesday as rising global supplies, slack demand and a mild Atlantic hurricane season forced geopolitical worries to the backburner.

Gulf Times-Rice in Saudi, Iran issue on top of agenda: US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived yesterday in Saudi Arabia on the first leg of a Middle East tour set to be dominated by the Iran nuclear standoff.