UN powers lose patience with Iran
The world's leading powers have agreed to refer the Iranian nuclear dossier back to the UN after no progress was achieved on an EU-designed compromise package.
"We have no choice but to return to the security council and continue the process suspended two months ago," said Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French foreign minister, after meeting his counterparts from other permanent members of the UN security council - the US, UK, Russia and China - as well as Germany.
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The meeting was held in Paris on Wednesday (12 July), ahead of a gathering of the G8 - the world's most industralised nations - in St Petersburg this weekend.
Mr Blazy said "The Iranians have given no indication at all that they are prepared to engage seriously on the substance of our proposals."
He referred to Tuesday's discussion between the EU foreign affairs chief Javier Solana and the Iranian chief negotiator Ali Larijani which saw no clear response from the Islamist republic on the EU's offer to solve the international dispute.
Crucially, Iran has refused to accept the key pre-condition for kicking off the talks - to suspend uranium enrichment.
Tehran argues enrichment only serves peaceful energy purposes, while the west fears it could be used for development of nuclear weapons.
The Iranians have been pressing for more time to take a decision while firmly rejecting any deadlines - but the French foreign minister Douste-Blazy slammed the attitude as "deceiving."
"It is normal that such study takes some time. But we had said that it should be a matter of weeks, not months," he told the French daily Le Figaro.
He formulated three messages to Tehran. "First, a message of unity, to tell Iran that we are united in asking for answers to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency], and UN Security Council demands."
"Then, a message of open-mindedness, to recall our generous offer that will allow creating a relation of cooperation with Iran. Finally, a message of firmness, to reaffirm the concerns of the international community," said Mr Douste-Blazy.
The EU's compromise package is expected to be unveiled on Thursday after being kept secret for weeks to boost its chances of agreement.
"Since the Iranians have not responded we think we should circulate the document," one European diplomat was quoted as saying by the Financial Times.
The offer reportedly includes incentives such as lifting US sanctions on sectors like telecommunications, agriculture or aircraft parts, plus a provision of light water nuclear reactors and enriched fuel, and support for the country's World Trade Organisation membership.
The UN's next move could be a resolution which would make it mandatory for Iran to freeze its nuclear activities - otherwise, it would face international sanctions.