September 24, 2009 / 2:35 AM / 10 years ago

Six powers demand "serious response" from Iran

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Six major powers have agreed that Iran must give a “serious response” at October 1 talks in Geneva on its disputed nuclear program, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Wednesday.

“We expect a serious response from Iran and will decide, in the context of our dual track approach, as a result of the meeting, on our next steps,” Miliband said, reading a statement agreed on by Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States.

He added the six powers also agreed that Iran should “cooperate further with the IAEA to resolve the remaining issues which need to be clarified to exclude the possibility of military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”

The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, in Vienna has been urging Iran to explain what it has said are credible Western intelligence reports suggesting Tehran has conducted research into building a nuclear warhead. Iran says the intelligence is fabricated.

Senior officials from the six powers last met with an Iranian delegation in July 2008 to discuss their offer of economic and political incentives for Tehran in exchange for a suspension of all of Iran’s sensitive nuclear activities.

Iran has yet to respond to the offer but has ruled out halting its nuclear program, which it says is intended solely for the generation of electricity. Western powers fear Tehran is amassing the capability to build atomic weapons under cover of a civilian energy program, a charge Iran denies.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear after the meeting that the United States and its allies were serious about the “dual-track approach” with Iran — pursuing talks with Iran while considering further U.N. sanctions if Tehran ignores U.N. demands that it freeze its enrichment program.

“No one should underestimate our intention to follow through on either or both of these tracks,” she told reporters. “It depends on Iran’s response.”

Reporting by Louis Charbonneau and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Peter Cooney

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