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Europe vows to punish Iran if nuclear work resumes

By wire services
Published August 3, 2005


PARIS - France, Britain and Germany formally warned Iran on Tuesday that they will end their two-year negotiations over the country's nuclear program and pursue punitive action if Iran carries out its threat to resume sensitive nuclear work.

The toughened stance came a day after Iran said it would resume nuclear processing at its plant in Isfahan, beginning today, and follows the election of an ultraconservative government in Tehran.

In a letter to Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hasan Rowhani, the three nations' foreign ministers and the European Union foreign policy chief warned that restarting work would "terminate our dialogue" and push the Europeans to seek a special session of the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The Tehran government rejected the European stance. "Iran will not give in to threats," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

U.S. envoy: N. Korea talks could end without deal

BEIJING - Breaking its public silence on nuclear disarmament talks, North Korea said Tuesday it wants to narrow differences with the United States but still insisted it won't give up its atomic weapons program until Washington withdraws alleged threats.

The main U.S. envoy said talks were nearing their conclusion - possibly within days - with delegates from six countries set to submit final comments Wednesday on a draft proposed by China for a statement of principles to guide future arms negotiations.

However, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill raised the possibility the discussions might break off without an agreement, with envoys heading home for further counsel.

"Whether we have a draft that everyone agrees on, or whether it's decided that there should be a recess of some kind, we don't know yet," Hill said.

Elsewhere . . .

ABC OUT OF RUSSIA: Russia's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday it will not renew permission for ABC-TV to operate in the country after the network broadcast an interview with a notorious Chechen warlord. In a statement, the ministry said ABC would be considered "undesirable" by all Russian state agencies because of an interview with Shamil Basayev, which was broadcast last week on Nightline.

SPECIALISTS QUESTION ARUBA SUSPECT: Behavioral specialists on Tuesday questioned a young Dutch suspect in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway. The behavior specialists from the Netherlands questioned Joran van der Sloot to observe his body language and look for inconsistencies in his account of what happened the night Holloway, 18, disappeared, police said.