Iran's envoy to EU wants 'new approach'

Ambassador says efforts to push new sanctions over nuclear enrichment program are unjustified.

Iran's new envoy to the European Union called on the body Wednesday to take a "new approach" to resolve the international standoff over its nuclear program, rather than backing new sanctions. Ambassador Ali Asghar Kaji said Iran would like to improve its battered ties with the EU, and said his country wanted to become an energy partner for Europe. He said efforts by the 27-nation European Union and others to get fresh sanctions approved by the UN Security Council were unjustified. "These matters should not be resolved through issuing a new resolution against Iran," Kaji told the Associated Press in an interview. "We believe that measures must be taken to correct and review policies in order to take a new approach in dealing with Iran, because we believe, and it has been proven to the world community, that Iran had no diversion from its peaceful nuclear efforts." Kaji pointed to a report, issued Friday by the UN's nuclear watchdog agency in Vienna, which he said concluded Iran's nuclear enrichment program is not being used to develop weapons but only to produce fuel for nuclear reactors. The US, the European Union and others suspect the program's real aim is to produce arms. "All of the outstanding issues have been settled between Iran and the agency ... it means that there are no more outstanding issues," he said. "There were certain baseless accusations against Iran in the past. Those accusations are totally groundless because Iran has moved within the framework of the nonproliferation treaty." The United States and EU nations have said the report actually boosted the case for additional sanctions because it said Iran refused to heed Security Council demands to halt enrichment. The UN agency also said Teheran had dismissed as "baseless" information provided by Western intelligence agencies that Iran's alleged missile and explosives experiments are part of a nuclear weapons program. Kaji would not go into detail what he meant by a "new approach" but suggested Iran remains willing to become a close trade and political partner for Europe. "Iran can play its role in supplying energy for EU countries," he said. "We can cooperate with the European Union in combating terrorism, in drug trafficking. We can have consultations in regional issues." His comments came as reports that European and US diplomats were looking to reconfigure previous offers of aid and trade in trying to get Iran to return to negotiations and suspend nuclear enrichment. Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany and the United States have offered Iran a package of economic and other incentives to give up the disputed nuclear work, and a third round of sanctions are supposed either to push Iran to the table or punish the oil-producing nation for its defiance. Kaji, four months into his new post, said Iran's senior nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, remained "ready to continue dialogue... to talk about new approaches" with the EU's foreign policy chief Javier Solana. The two last met in January in Brussels but those talks made little progress toward solving the stalemate.