US and EU officials intend to urge Russia and China to support the diplomatic action against Iran when the U.N. Security Council hold a meeting in London on Monday. Iran's decision to resume its nuclear activities has raised serious concerns with the West which fears the regime intends to build an atomic bomb. Iran insists it only wants to produce electricity.
Speaking before the talks, Britain's Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said the "onus is on Iran" to prove its program is peaceful. He said the international community's confidence had been "sorely undermined by a history of concealment and deception" by the clerical regime.
Britain, France and Germany last week declared more than two years of tense negotiations at a "dead end" and, backed by Washington, want Tehran referred to the Security Council.
But they need the support of Russia and China, which have close commercial ties with Iran and have in the past resisted such a measure. Straw said dialogue with the two countries, who wield a veto on the Security Council, was of "crucial importance."
He again ruled out military action against Iran over its nuclear program. "I have ruled it out enough times in the past. Military action is not on the agenda and it is certainly not on the agenda at this meeting," he added.
Monday's talks aim to build consensus on what action to take, ahead of an emergency board meeting of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, expected in early February.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Zhang Yan, director of its Arms Control Department, would attend.
"China believes that under the current situation, all relevant sides should remain restrained and stick to solving the Iranian nuclear issue through negotiations," the ministry said in a statement.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak will also be joined by senior diplomats from Britain, France and Germany. Straw will not attend the talks.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran, an Iranian opposition group, planned a rally outside Britain's Foreign Office urging the government to refer Tehran to the Security Council.
Iran last week removed U.N. seals from its main uranium enrichment facility in Natanz and resumed research on nuclear fuel, including small-scale enrichment, after a 2Ѕ-year freeze.
It says its intentions are peaceful and it only wants to produce nuclear energy.
But Western nations suspect Tehran's real goal is building the technology and infrastructure to make nuclear weapons.
With the backing of Russia and China uncertain, European diplomats have been unwilling to talk publicly about what sanctions could be imposed on Tehran.
China, which is highly dependent on Iran for oil, has warned that referral would escalate the confrontation. European diplomats believe there are signs that Russia, which is deeply involved in building Iranian reactors for power generation, is leaning toward their position.
Economic sanctions targeting oil and gas exports are thought unlikely. Iran is OPEC's second-largest producer and preventing it from doing business could disrupt the world's energy markets, the AP reports.