"We hope very much, as [Secretary Rice] has said, that common sense will come back to the people in Iran and will take root," Solana said at the State Department before a closed-door meeting with Rice.
'It's Up To The Iranians'
Britain, France, and Germany -- known as the EU-3 -- have been negotiating for more than a year with Iran over its nuclear program. Rice said Tehran evidently was not taking the talks seriously when it announced on 10 January that it would be resuming research on uranium enrichment.
"I think it's up to the Iranians to demonstrate that they're not just talking, but they're serious," Rice said. "I think the EU has already -- France has already -- responded concerning whether or not they think it would make any sense to have discussions with the Iranians at this point. And it's my understanding that [the EU] believe it would not, because it was the Iranians who walked away from the negotiations, who broke the moratorium. And as that condition exists, I am sensing from the Europeans that there's not much to talk about."
Solana said Iran's national security adviser had sent the EU a letter offering to resume talks. But, like Rice, the EU minister said further negotiations would be fruitless. He said it is now time to bring the matter before the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"We replied that it doesn't make much sense to have another meeting if there's nothing new in what they're going to put on the table," Solana said. "So I think the position now is what we have said and the Secretary [Rice] has said again, which is to have a decision: to call for an extraordinary meeting in Vienna of the [IAEA], and then to refer the [IAEA report] to the Security Council."
Washington and the EU-3 have asked the IAEA Board of Governors to convene an emergency meeting at its headquarters in Vienna on 2 February to consider bringing Iran before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
There is no indication what sanctions might be sought, and it is as yet unclear whether the Security Council might impose any sanctions at all. Each of its five permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia, and the United States -- can veto any resolution.
China ordinarily opposes UN sanctions on any country, and it gets much of the oil it needs for its booming economy from Iran. For its part, Russia has been helping Tehran with its nuclear program.
However, Solana and Rice noted that both China and Russia have expressed their concern about Iran's decision to resume uranium enrichment.