Britain, France and Germany, the so-called EU-3, are to call an emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) early February in order to discuss Iranian resumption of nuclear research.

The move follows heightened diplomatic pressure on the Islamic republic over its nuclear ambitions and threats of referral to the UN Security Council. Russia and China have called for Iran to resume its freeze on certain nuclear activities, but refuse to back calls by the EU-3 and the US to move the issue to the UN.

Iran, meanwhile, has warned that such a move would be counter productive and could impact on oil prices, which have already spiked in the face of this latest international furore. Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has been quoted by Iran’s state news agency IRNA as saying that there was only a “weak” chance being referred to the UN Security Council over its disputed nuclear programme.

“If our case goes to the Security Council, whether as a simple warning, to reinforce the head of the IAEA or even to decide on sanctions, the government will be obliged to put an end to it suspension of activities,” national security spokesman Hossein Entezami said. Nonetheless, Iran has offered to resume talks with European negotiators over the issue, a measure describe by one European diplomat as ‘vacuous.’