EU blames Iran for nuclear ambitions

The European Union hardened its stance on Iran on Wednesday, saying it was “deeply concerned” about Tehran's determination to press ahead with a nuclear programe which could produce atomic bombs.

“We ... regret, and feel deeply concerned by the fact that Iran gives every sign of being intent on developing a fissile material production capability well before the international community obtains what it needs: confidence that Iran's programme is exclusively peaceful in nature,” the EU said in a statement on behalf of 25 EU members and other European states.

The statement was read by British Ambassador Peter Jenkins during a closed-door meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors, which is discussing an EU draft resolution that would report Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions, reports Reuters.

“We agree with the European Union and a growing majority of the board that the time has come to report Iran's (nuclear) noncompliance to the Security Council,” U.S. delegation head Gregory Schulte told the meeting. “It is now time for the board to do our duty.'”

Still, a diplomat familiar with U.S. thinking said the decision to postpone referral suited Washington, which was not interested in losing a Security Council battle against veto-carrying members Russia and China.

The U.S. diplomatic mission dealing with the IAEA in Vienna declined comment when asked about the developments. A European official - who also demanded anonymity as a condition for discussing EU strategy - said China appeared rigid in its opposition but ``the key is to gain Russia, and we think we can gain Russia at a later date.''

In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the U.S. and European initiative to refer Tehran to the Security Council as counterproductive, saying it “will not contribute to the search for a solution to the Iranian problem through political and diplomatic means,” informs Guardian.

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