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10/19/04 - G-8 ON IRAN'S NUCLEAR AMBITIONS - 2004-10-20

Iran's foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi says the European Union cannot persuade his country to give up its plans to enrich uranium. "It is wrong for them [the E-U] to think they can, through negotiations, force Iran to stop enrichment," said Mr. Kharrazi.

Uranium enrichment is a key step in the development of nuclear weapons. In September, the International Atomic Energy Agency, or I-A-E-A, passed a resolution calling on Iran immediately to stop all enrichment activity. U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the major industrialized nations, known as the Group of Eight, are focused on getting Iran to abide by that resolution:

"The simplest description I can give you of [last] Friday's [G-8] meetings is a chance to share ideas about how to bring Iran into compliance with the requirements of the I-A-E-A Board of Governors, and to share ideas about how the [United Nations] Security Council might take up the issue, should it be referred to the Security Council."

Mr. Boucher says the United States is willing to listen to ideas suggested by members of the E-U:

"The Europeans have been talking about their approach, their package, their discussions that they intend to have with the Iranians about what they might say. And they. . .have always made clear that there are certain aspects, certain benefits in the E-U relationship with Iran that wouldn't happen without Iranian compliance. So we'll hear what they put together; we'll hear them out, and talk together with them about how to move Iran into compliance."

Mr. Boucher says the U.S. position remains clear:

"I think it's important to remember [that] the United States has always felt and continues to feel very strongly that Iran's history of covert activity, Iran's history of developing programs that are designed to produce nuclear weapons requires that this matter be referred to the U-N Security Council for action." The International Atomic Energy Agency meets again on November 25th to review Iran's case.