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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

All sides must return 'to the table' to discuss Iran's nuclear programme: Annan

12 May 2006 United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Vienna today again stressed the need for a diplomatic solution to the stand-off with Iran over its nuclear programme, urging “every important stakeholder” to return to the negotiating table in a spirit of openness to find a solution.

Speaking to reporters in the Austrian capital, where he is on an official visit, Mr. Annan emphasized that “everything” should be done to find a negotiated solution to the impasse, repeating his call for all sides to “lower the rhetoric and intensify diplomatic efforts.”

“I have also stated very clearly both in private in my contacts with the American administration and publicly that I think it is important that the United States comes to the table and that it should join the European countries and Iran to find a solution.”

“Because I really believe that as long as the Iranians have a sense that they are negotiating with the Europeans ad referendum and what they discuss with them will have to be checked with the Americans, and then come back again to them, I am not sure they will put everything on the table,” he said.

“Everyone, every important stakeholder should be at the table,” Mr. Annan emphasized, adding he was happy that discussions earlier this week, which involved the Security Council, appeared to have led to “a situation where everyone agrees that not only one should come back to the table and negotiate but there should be a comprehensive package proposed for discussions by all.”

“I urge all parties to be open, and Iran included, and come back to the table to find a solution.”

Since 3 May, the 15-member Council has been considering its response to the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which says Tehran has defied the Council’s call to suspend uranium enrichment and allow inspections of its nuclear programme.

Possible actions being considered by the Council include a draft resolution, backed by the United States, United Kingdom and France, that would demand compliance from Iran under the UN Charter’s Chapter VII – making it a legally binding decision that could be followed up by enforcement measures such as sanctions in the case of further defiance.

Iran says its activities are solely for energy purposes but the United States and other countries insist it is clandestinely seeking to produce nuclear weapons.

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