European Union foreign ministers have warned that Iran faces ‘serious’ consequences unless it fulfils a pledge to stop uranium enrichment for alleged military purposes.

Britain and Germany, who along with France have spearheaded an EU diplomatic offensive on Iran, made the comments as the International Atomic Energy Agency met in Vienna to decide the next steps in the nuclear stand-off.

The US and Europe appear close to agreement over setting a deadline for Iran to allay suspicions it is secretly making atomic weapons, but Tehran insisted on its right to develop peaceful nuclear technology.

France, Germany and Britain had proposed a November deadline for Iran to satisfy the international community that it is not secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw meanwhile vowed to maintain pressure on Iran over its nuclear plans, warning that Tehran had made commitments and now must fulfil them.

Speaking at the meeting of EU foreign ministers, he said Iran has the right to develop nuclear technology for civilian purposes, but raised questions over Tehran's assurances about military nuclear plans.