Agence France Presse, BRUSSELS – Iran is "marching off in the wrong direction" in its nuclear standoff with the West, the European Union’s Austrian presidency said on Tuesday.
Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik said that both the Islamic republic’s resumption of nuclear activity and the public outbursts against Israel by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were of growing concern.
"The repeated declarations of its president are of the greatest concern to us," she told members of the European Parliament. Ahmadinejad has said that Israel should be "wiped off the map".
"At a time when what we need is confidence-building measures, they are marching off in the wrong direction," she said, adding that EU foreign ministers would discuss developments in Iran when they meet on January 30.
Iran resumed uranium enrichment work on January 10 in the face of Western protests. Enriched uranium can be used as fuel for atomic reactors or the raw material for nuclear weapons.
Tehran denies it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.
The United States said on Monday it was "absolutely" crucial to refer the row over Iran’s nuclear programme to the United Nations Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions on Tehran.
Britain, Germany and France have called for an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, on February 2.
The IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors has the power to refer Iran to the Security Council.