EU will only help Iran with peaceful nuclear programme, Solana says

( dpa ) - European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Wednesday the bloc was willing to help Iran develop its nuclear programme, but not until it was convinced that such a programme was being carried out for peaceful purposes.

Solana's comments to the European Parliament followed calls from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Western states to help his country build nuclear power plants.

"None of us have a problem with an Iranian civil programme, indeed we are offering to help. But none of us will do so unless we are certain that Iran's intentions are exclusively peaceful," Solana told European lawmakers.

The High Representative for the EU's common foreign and security policy said he remained unconvinced about Iran's true intentions, noting that Iran continued to produce enriched uranium in spite of the fact that Russia was already supplying nuclear fuel to its planned Bushehr reactor.

"When I ask representatives of the Iranian government what they plan to do with the enriched uranium they are producing, I never get an answer," Solana said.

"Even the suspicion that Iran is pursing a nuclear weapon can destabilize the Middle East. Our objective is to remove those suspicions," he added.

In a speech delivered on Wednesday near the site of the reactor, Ahmadinejad said he would not make concessions over the country's nuclear drive despite pressure by world powers.

"The Iranian nation will resist the pressure and not withdraw one iota from its (nuclear) rights - if you (the West) believe that Iran would give in to pressure, then you are making a grave mistake," Ahmadinejad said.

The foreign policy chief said the EU should continue to seek a negotiated solution to the nuclear standoff, "in parallel" with initiatives being carried out at UN Security Council level.

The five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany are currently discussing a draft resolution to impose further sanctions on Iran in the protracted dispute over its nuclear programme.

Solana's comments were echoed by Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's external-relations commissioner.

"I regret that the nuclear talks have so far been fruitless. As long as we do not see such political will, there will unfortunately not be a possibility for us to enhance our relationship - including relaunching the talks on a Trade and Cooperation Agreement," she said.

Solana and Ferrero-Waldner were reporting to the European Parliament after meeting Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, in Brussels last week.

EU lawmakers are expected to approve a resolution on Thursday regretting that Iran had "still not complied with its international obligations to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities." its ruling.

The state must avoid deliberate harm to civilians in the Gaza Strip but the amounts of fuel and electricity currently being supplied by Israel are enough to meet Gazans' essential humanitarian needs, the court said.

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