|IAEA to Report Iran to Security Council
GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer
2 minutes ago
VIENNA, Austria - The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency on Saturday reported Iran to the U.N. Security Council in a resolution expressing concern Tehran's nuclear program may not be "exclusively for peaceful purposes."
The landmark decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board sets the stage for future action by the top U.N. body, which has the authority to impose economic and political sanctions.
Still, any such moves were weeks if not months away. Two permanent council members, Russia and China, agreed to referral only on condition the council take no action before March.
Twenty-seven nations supported the resolution, which was sponsored by three European powers — Britain, France and Germany — and backed by the United States.
Only three nations — Cuba, Syria and Venezuela — voted against. Five others — Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa abstained, a milder form of showing opposition.
Among those backing the referral was India, a nation with great weight in the developing world whose stance was unclear until the vote.
A copy of the resolution made available to The Associated Press links the decision to ask for Tehran's referral to the country's breaches of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and lack of confidence that it is not trying to make weapons.
The resolution expresses "serious concerns about Iran's nuclear program." It recalls "Iran's many failures and breaches of its obligations" to the nonproliferation treaty. And it expresses "the absence of confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes."
It requests IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei to "report to the Security Council" steps Iran needs to take to dispel suspicions about its nuclear ambitions.
The resolution calls on Iran to:
_Reestablish a freeze on uranium enrichment and related activities.
_Consider whether to stop construction of a heavy water reactor that could be the source of plutonium for weapons.
_Formally ratify an agreement allowing the IAEA greater inspecting authority and continue honoring the agreement before it is ratified.
_Give the IAEA additional power in its investigation of Iran's nuclear program, including "access to individuals" for interviews, as well as to documentation on its black-market nuclear purchases, equipment that could be used for nuclear and non-nuclear purposes and "certain military-owned workshops" where nuclear activities might be going on.
The draft also asks IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei to "convey ... to the Security Council" his report to the next board session in March along with any resolution that meeting might approve.
Agreement on the final wording of the text was achieved only overnight, just hours before Saturday's meeting convened, after Washington compromised on Egypt's demand that the resolution include support for the creation of a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East. Egypt and other Arab states have long linked the two issues of Iran's atomic ambitions and Israel's nuclear weapons status.
The resolution recognized "that a solution to the Iranian issue would contribute to global nonproliferation efforts and ... the objective of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, including their means of delivery."
A Western diplomat at the meeting said the United States felt strongly about not linking Israel to nuclear concerns in the Middle East when it considers Iran the real threat. But the Americans relented in the face of overwhelming European support for such a clause.
Egypt, whose vote carries weight with other Arab board members, needed the clause to satisfy domestic concerns, a senior European diplomat said.
Diplomats said support for Iran had shrunk among board members since Russia and China lined up behind the United States, France and Britain — the other three permanent council members — earlier in the week.
Associated Press reporter Palma Benczenleitner in Vienna contributed to this report.