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Monday, January 30, 2006

Permanent five say IAEA must report Iran to U.N.

LONDON (Reuters) - The permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council agreed on Tuesday that this week's meeting of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog should report Iran to the Council over its nuclear programs, said a statement from the five.

"(Ministers) agreed that this week's extraordinary IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) Board meeting should report to the Security Council its decision on the steps required of Iran," said a joint statement after the meeting between the foreign ministers of China, Russia, the United States, France and Britain as well as Germany and the European Union's foreign policy chief.

A senior U.S. official said the statement meant Russia and China were on board with the United States and the European powers that there must be strong action taken by the IAEA on Thursday or Friday against Iran to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb.

"This is the most powerful message we could have hoped for," said a senior U.S. official, who read out the statement after the four-hour dinner at which the ministers agreed to report Iran to the Council.

The statement said the ministers agreed that the U.N. Security Council should await the IAEA director general's report to a March IAEA meeting before deciding what further action to take.

The Council could ultimately impose sanctions against Iran but there are many steps before this could happen.

"(The ministers) call on Iran to restore in full the suspension of (uranium) enrichment-related activity, including research and development under the supervision of the IAEA," said the statement.

The statement added that they should all continue their resolve to work for a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear weapons program.

Earlier on Monday, Iran put forward its ideas to European officials in Brussels who said the talks had yielded nothing new but that negotiations with the Europeans could be reopened if Tehran complied with IAEA requests.

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