Germany could consider separate EU steps on Iran

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BERLIN, Nov 16 (Reuters) Germany would consider the possibility of separate EU measures against Iran if the UN Security Council fails to agree on a new sanctions resolution, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said today.

Reacting to the latest report on Iran's nuclear programme by the UN nuclear watchdog, the United States said yesterday it would work with its allies for a third round of UN sanctions against Tehran for refusing to suspend nuclear enrichment.

But Russia and China, permanent veto-wielding members of the Security Council, are opposed to more sanctions. As a result, France has been pushing for the European Union to impose its own separate US-style sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

A German Foreign Ministry spokesman was asked at a regular news conference what Germany, which diplomats have been saying opposed the idea of separate EU measures, would do if the Security Council failed to approve tougher sanctions.

''The foreign minister has made clear that if this is the case we would take up this issue in Europe and consider together what steps could be taken by Europe,'' spokesman Martin Jaeger said.

He also said that yesterday's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna ''makes clear that Iran has still not fulfilled its international obligations as laid down in resolutions of the UN Security Council and shows that enrichment activities continue.'' On the positive side, he said the report by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei noted that some progress has been made in dealing with open questions about Iran's past nuclear activities. But he said this was not sufficient.

''We need not just clarity about the past but also to demonstrate that Iran's nuclear programme is entirely peaceful,'' he said.

''There must be progress with the enrichment issue.'' Enrichment technology can be used to produce fuel for atomic power stations or nuclear weapons. So far Iran has rejected UN demands that it suspend its enrichment programme.

The United States and its Western allies fear that Iran's nuclear programme is a front for developing atomic weapons, an allegation Tehran denies. Iran says its atomic programme is intended solely for the peaceful generation of electricity.

REUTERS ARB VC1816

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