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Iran nuclear program

The United States narrowed differences with European allies Friday on how to pressure Iran to renounce the development of nuclear weapons, but it hasn't yet won agreement to haul the country before the U.N. Security Council, a U.S. official said. Washington wants the Europeans to back its attempts to have Iran declared in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. If the U.N. atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, were to vote to do so at its three-day meeting in Austria next week, it could lead to Security Council sanctions. Britain, France and Germany have signaled they don't want the IAEA to vote on the U.S. proposal before November, to give diplomatic efforts more time. The gap between the United States and those three countries was narrowed at a meeting of the Group of Eight countries, U.S. Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton said. But, he added, "We have a ways to go", informs USATODAY. According to Reuters, The United States, which wants Iran hauled before the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program, said on Friday there could be no "double standard" when tackling South Korea's unsanctioned experiments. But Undersecretary of State John Bolton, Washington's top official on non-proliferation, said a full international probe into Seoul's activities was needed before decisions were taken. "We are still interested in knowing all the facts ... but one thing I can assure is that we will not allow a double standard in terms of how we treat the violations ...," he told a news conference. On Wednesday, U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that South Korea would probably be referred to the Security Council, which can impose sanctions on countries that break nuclear treaties. South Korea acknowledged last week that scientists from the state-run Korean Atomic Energy Research Institute enriched a trace amount of uranium in three laser tests conducted in January and February 2000. Western diplomats in Vienna have said the level of enrichment accomplished was close to weapons-grade, but South Korea's top nuclear scientist said that was speculation. Bolton, who was in Geneva for a regular series of talks with fellow members of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries on nuclear issues, said the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) would discuss South Korea's admission at its board meeting next week. The official said US Under Secretary of State for arms control and international security John Bolton was now talking in Geneva with European diplomats "about a trigger mechanism" to effectively set a deadline for Iran ahead of the following IAEA board meeting in November. The trigger could be "to require that Iran suspend immediately and fully all uranium enrichment-related work" or "for Iran to grant complete, immediate, unrestricted access to whatever locations the IAEA deems necessary" or for Iran to provide by a certain date, such as October 31, "full information on all imported materials and components relevant to the P1 and P2 centrifuge program," the official said. Uranium can be enriched through centrifuges into a highly refined form that can be used as fuel for civilian reactors or to make an atomic bomb. Europe's three main countries -- Britain, France and Germany -- are against taking Iran to the Security Council as they stress cooperating with Tehran to get it to come clean about its program, reports Channelnewsasia.

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