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Last Updated: Monday, 21 July, 2003, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
EU to review ties with Iran
Patrick Bartlett
By Patrick Bartlett
BBC correspondent in Brussels

The European Union has said it will review its ties with Iran in September amid increasing concern about the country's nuclear programme.

The declaration in effect sets a deadline for Iran to co-operate with United Nations nuclear inspectors or risk losing the promise of closer economic ties with Europe.

Uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, Iran.
Israel believes Iran is using an atomic energy programme as cover
Earlier the Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, on a visit to Brussels, described Iran's nuclear programme as a threat to the stability of the entire world.

Like the United States, Israel is convinced that Iran is using an atomic energy programme as cover to allow it secretly to develop nuclear weapons.

The EU has been more circumspect, but insists Iran should remove all doubt by allowing full-scale inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In a statement, EU foreign ministers said there was increasing concern about Iran's nuclear ambitions. They warned that Iran's hopes of closer economic relations with Europe depended on it co-operating to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

Four-point deal

Iran, however, insists its nuclear programme is purely civilian. But it is now under intense pressure to convince the EU that is indeed the case.

In its statement, the EU said a promised trade and co-operation agreement was dependent on Iran's attitude to four key issues: nuclear proliferation, human rights, terrorism and the Middle East peace process.

The Israeli foreign minister used his visit to Brussels to urge the EU to take a tougher line with Tehran.

He expressed fears that a new long-range Iranian missile could reach Europe and parts of southern Russia as well as Israel.




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