The foreign ministers of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, Russia, UK and USA − along with the German foreign minister and the high representative of the European Union met in London on 30 January to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme.

The ministers called on Iran to restore in full the suspension of enrichment-related activity including R&D, under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and, in a surprise move, agreed that the extraordinary IAEA board meeting scheduled for 2 February should report to the UN Security Council the steps required from Iran along with all reports and resolutions related to the issue. The move came despite last minute measures from Tehran to mollify international concerns over its nuclear ambitions.

However, while the ministers agreed to refer Iran to the Security Council they also determined that the Security Council should await the IAEA director general’s report to the March meeting of the IAEA board before taking action.

Following the meeting, UK foreign minister Jack Straw issued a statement saying: “Ministers underlined their commitment to the NPT and their determination to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, shared serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear programme, and agreed that an extensive period of confidence-building was required from Iran.” Nonetheless, ministers are determined to continue to work for a diplomatic solution to the “Iran problem.”

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responded by saying that Iran would not surrender its nuclear ambitions, as Russian and Chinese diplomats attempt to defuse the crisis.