BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union accused Iran on Friday of destabilising the Middle East with its nuclear programme and threats towards Israel, in a significant hardening of the 25-nation bloc’s tone towards Tehran.
A tough statement drafted for adoption by EU leaders at a summit also condemned Iran’s questioning of the Nazi Holocaust against the Jews.
“The European Council expresses its concern about the negative impact of Iranian policies on stability and security in the Middle East,” the draft statement said.
The declaration reflected disillusion with Tehran after years of fruitless negotiations between the three leading EU powers — Britain, France and Germany — and Iran on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear programme, which the West suspects is aimed at developing atomic weapons.
Those talks collapsed in October when Iran rejected U.N. demands that it suspend uranium enrichment activities that it says are for civilian energy purposes.
“The European Council deplores Iran’s failure to take the steps required by the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors and the U.N. Security Council, and agrees that this could only have negative consequences for relations between the EU and Iran,” the draft said.
It said the EU “expresses deep concern at the Iranian government’s recent statements concerning the EU and individual member states, as well as its threats towards Israel and the continuing deterioration of human rights and political freedoms of its citizens”.
Tehran cancelled a regular meeting of the EU-Iran human rights dialogue due this month.
Referring to this week’s international gathering in Tehran questioning the Holocaust, the draft said: “The EU condemns any denial of the Holocaust as a historical fact, either in whole or in part, and therefore firmly rejects the underlying premise and the objectives of the conference.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has stirred an international outcry by referring to Nazi Germany’s killing of 6 million Jews in World War Two as a “myth”, told delegates at the conference that Israel’s days were numbered.