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In quotes: Reaction to Iran nuclear move

Iran has removed international seals from its nuclear facility at Natanz in order to resume research there, despite warnings from Western countries concerned about its nuclear ambitions.

Here is a selection of reactions.

DIRECTOR OF UN NUCLEAR WATCHDOG (IAEA) MOHAMED ELBARADEI

Maintaining the suspension, resuming the dialogue with all concerned parties, and providing the necessary co-operation and transparency to the IAEA are conditions for a comprehensive and equitable solution that ensures Iran's right to peaceful nuclear activities, while assuring the international community of the peaceful nature of its nuclear programme.

WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN SCOTT MCCLELLAN

If the regime in Iran continues on the current course and fails to abide by its international obligations there is no other choice but to refer the matter to the Security Council.

Any resumption of enrichment and reprocessing activities would be a further violation of Iran's agreement with the Europeans.

So such steps would be a serious escalation of the nuclear issue by Tehran. There are serious concerns within the international community about the regime's behaviour.

The concern within the international community is well-founded.

EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF SPOKESWOMAN CRISTINA GALLACH

We do not agree with this approach of Iran. As you know very well, there was an agreement between the European Union and Iran that related activities to enrichment were also suspended - that's why removing the seals at Natanz, even in the presence of [International Atomic Energy Agency] IAEA inspectors, is considered by the Europeans as a breach of this agreement.

And what is more disappointing in addition to that is the fact that all the appeals that the international community has made to Iran that such a step should not be taken have gone unheeded.

That's why consultations are taking place among ourselves. We have to see how to go forward and how to respond.

CHIEF US REPRESENTATIVE TO IAEA GREGORY L SCHULTE

The [Iranian] regime continues to chose confrontation over co-operation, a choice that deepens the isolation of Iran and harms the interests of the Iranian people.

Iran is taking another deliberate step toward enrichment, which creates the material for nuclear bombs.

FRENCH PRESIDENT JACQUES CHIRAC

Everyone recognises that Iran or North Korea, for example, have a right to peacefully use nuclear energy.

But is imperative for the international community to ensure that the commitments reached for everyone's security are respected.

These countries would be committing a grave error if they do not grasp the hand that we are extending to them

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER FRANK-WALTER STEINMEIER

This morning the Iranian government had obviously started breaking the seals to the Natanz uranium plant, and thereby crossed a line which they knew wouldn't remain without consequences.

I have just spoken with the general director of the IAEA, [Mohamed] ElBaradei, and asked him to provide a rapid evaluation of Iran's activities and what danger they pose.

On the basis of this evaluation I shall try to speak with my British and French counterparts this week to determine our position and see if there is any basis for further EU3 negotiations with Iran.

RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SERGEI LAVROV

It is cause for concern that Iran has announced its intention to restart work connected to enrichment of uranium in spite of a moratorium agreed between Iran and European countries, and despite the fact that this moratorium was registered with the IAEA.

[Russia] will make an effort to ensure that during the period of negotiations the moratorium is maintained.

UK FOREIGN SECRETARY JACK STRAW

Military action is not on our agenda, I don't believe in practice it is on anyone else's agenda. This has to be resolved by diplomatic and other non-military means and that's what is on our agenda at the moment.

Reference to the Security Council has always been on the agenda. The issue of whether we formally propose a referral to the Security Council will be a key subject for discussion when I meet my colleagues in the next few days.

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