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Nuclear agency votes to report Iran to U.N. Council
By Mark Heinrich and Francois Murphy
The board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog voted on Saturday to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council because of suspicions it is trying to make atomic weapons, a diplomat who was in the session said. Iran has threatened to respond to the move -- initiated by the United States, EU powers, Russia and China -- by curbing U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities and scrapping talks on a Russian compromise proposal. The diplomat said a European Union-sponsored resolution aimed at increasing pressure on Iran to improve its cooperation with an International Atomic Energy Agency probe of its nuclear programme was passed by the 35-nation IAEA board.
Twenty-seven members voted in favour of the motion, five abstained and three voted against, the diplomat said.
The vote had been delayed by a day of haggling between EU powers and 15 developing states from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM="Nesvrstani").
These tried to soften the resolution for fear it would antagonise Iran and curb their own nuclear energy options.
Diplomats said the EU rejected their attempts to delete a clause mandating that all IAEA investigative reports and resolutions, including one in 2005 declaring Iran non-compliant with nuclear non-proliferation rules, be passed to the Council.
"That was a 'no-no'. Paragraph 2 is the holy grail for us," one EU diplomat said.
Another Western diplomat said that to remove Paragraph 2 would have surrendered to Iranian intimidation.
"The threat (to restrict inspections) is on everyone's minds but we consider it blackmail and if we give in to that, there's no end to it."
Diplomats from the EU trio of France, Germany and Britain said they were determined to induce the Islamic Republic to come clean on what they suspect is military involvement in nuclear work, and to stop enrichment of uranium.
U.S. and EU leaders, aware that Russia, China and developing states wanted to avoid a showdown with the world's fourth biggest oil exporter, insisted that reporting Iran would not finish off diplomacy or trigger early sanctions.
NAM states argued that Paragraph 2 could be construed as ending IAEA oversight of Iran and paving the way to sanctions before the IAEA concludes its investigations into Iran's atomic energy programme -- which it concealed for 18 years until 2003.
Iran says it wants only nuclear power, not bombs, and that it has a sovereign right to make uranium fuel on its own soil.
U.S. Compromises on Wording of Iran Nuclear Resolution
By ELAINE SCIOLINO
The 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency put off a vote on a landmark resolution on Iran's nuclear program on Friday, largely because of American opposition to a clause indirectly criticizing Israel's nuclear weapons status, according to several diplomats.
But late Friday evening the dispute was apparently resolved after the Americans backed down and accepted compromise language, an American official said (???).
In Washington, R. Nicholas Burns, under secretary of state for political affairs, said the way had been cleared for the adoption of the resolution on Saturday.
"The I.A.E.A. board is now poised to adopt a very important resolution declaring the international community's lack of confidence in Iran," he said. "This is a major development on this issue."
Earlier in the day, diplomats here had predicted the United States would have to accept a compromise on the clause, which mentions support for the creation of a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East.
The clause was insisted upon by Egypt, with the strong backing of the nonaligned nations on the agency's board.
Egypt and other Arab states routinely demand references to a "nuclear-free zone" in the Middle East in Security Council documents. They argue that Israel — which has never admitted that it has nuclear weapons and, unlike Iran, has never signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty — should be made part of a general security framework in the Middle East.
The issue temporarily exposed a split between the Americans, who opposed the Egyptian demand, and Russia, China and the Europeans, who supported it.
On Thursday night, Britain circulated a new, informal draft that added a clause that recognized that "a solution to the Iranian nuclear issue would contribute to the goal of a Middle East free of all weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery."
That language reflected the official position of the 25-member European Union.
But the United States delegation, led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, initially opposed the compromise language, saying it could be used by Iran as a propaganda weapon against Israel, four senior diplomats said.
"The Americans are worried that once it is there, it will stay there forever and allow the Iranians to hide behind it," one ambassador involved in the negotiations said.
It was not immediately clear which compromise Washington had agreed to, though a senior official said the resolution would make reference to a nuclear-free zone.
Earlier, a State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, had said the United States accepted in principle that "we all hope for a day when the Middle East achieves a state where there are not nuclear weapons."
Throughout the day on Friday, the Europeans pressed the Americans to change their position. "It's five against one," said one European ambassador.
Another key ambassador called the Americans "dogmatists," predicting that for the resolution to pass, "The Americans will have to give in."
Gregory Schulte, the American ambassador to the agency, told reporters that he expected strong support when a vote was taken.
"We are convinced we have a solid majority for the resolution that reports Iran to the Security Council," he said. "And that majority is growing."
Many diplomats here also said the resolution might not pass with as strong a majority as many had hoped, because of opposition among the 16-member bloc of nonaligned countries.
Diplomats met behind closed doors throughout the day to meet some of the demands of the nonaligned countries, which wanted to delete all references to the Security Council or at least delay any report to New York until after the nuclear agency makes its full assessment of Iran's nuclear program in March.
The current text is a compromise between the American push for immediate action against Iran by the Security Council and Russia's preference for a monthlong delay for more diplomacy. The resolution mentions Iran's "many failures and breaches of its obligations" under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and "the absence of confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes."
In one important concession, the draft resolution was changed to reflect the fact that actions taken by Iran to build international "confidence" that it is not pursuing a nuclear weapon are "voluntary and non-legally binding."
In another development, Javad Vaidi, the head of Iran's nuclear delegation, told reporters on Friday that if the resolution reported Iran to the Security Council, it would be the end of a Russian proposal under which uranium would be enriched for Iran's energy purposes at a site in Russia under solely Russian authority.
Underscoring the fluid nature of the diplomacy, however, a Russian diplomat said that talks on the proposal were continuing. On Thursday, Iran informed the I.A.E.A. in a letter that all "voluntary" nuclear cooperation with the agency would end if the agency's board reported Iran's nuclear case to the Security Council. That would mean that the agency would no longer be allowed to do voluntary spot inspections and would lose access to important sites and installations.
Iran to resume nuclear enrichment “immediately"
Tehran, Feb. 04 – Iran announced on Saturday that it would “immediately” take steps to resume uranium enrichment and end snap inspection of its nuclear sites after the 35-nation board of governors of the United Nations nuclear watchdog adopted a resolution reporting the Islamic Republic to the Security Council for breaches of its international obligations regarding its suspected nuclear weapons program. The announcement came minutes after the International Atomic Energy Agency board nations declared their votes.
“Our government is forced to carry out industrial-scale enrichment”, said Javad Vaeidi, a top nuclear negotiator, according to the state-run ISNA news agency.
Vaeidi also said that Iran has to “immediately carry out the law ratified in Majlis to suspend voluntary implementation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s Additional Protocol”.
Saturday’s resolution had 27 votes in its favour, three against, with five abstentions.
Cuba, Syria and Venezuela voted against it, while Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa abstained.