US drops plan to report Iran to UN Security Council
( 2003-09-06 10:47) (Agencies)
Washington has abandoned plans to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council for what it says are breaches of U.N. nuclear rules, despite worries that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons, diplomats said on Friday.
Diplomats told Reuters on Thursday that Washington had circulated a draft resolution among members of the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) declaring Iran in "non-compliance" with U.N. nuclear obligations.
Diplomats said Washington realized there was little support for its draft resolution, as the case for declaring Iran in breach is far from clear-cut.
If the resolution had found favor and been approved by the IAEA board at its meeting next week, the board would have been required to report Iran to the Security Council, which could impose economic sanctions.
However, one diplomat said Washington would likely try again to report Tehran to the council in November, after the next IAEA report on Iran.
The United States, which labeled Iran a member of an "axis of evil" with North Korea and pre-war Iraq, accuses Tehran of secretly developing atomic weapons, a charge Iran denies.
A senior Western diplomat told reporters the United States would now support a resolution demanding Iran urgently comply with its IAEA nuclear Safeguards Agreement and help the agency "get to the bottom of Iran's nuclear program" -- with no mention of non-compliance.
"I think we need to strengthen the hand of the agency," the diplomat said, adding that such a strongly worded resolution from the board would increase diplomatic pressure on Tehran to come clean about any nuclear weapons program.
Another Western diplomat told Reuters that the chances of getting the 35-nation board to approve a resolution that left out the Security Council were "better than 50-50."
The proposal has not yet been put down on paper but diplomats said it was likely to be drafted this weekend, in time for next week's meeting.
"BOARD MUST NOT BE SWAYED"
The board will discuss two IAEA reports that list numerous failures by Tehran to inform the agency of its nuclear facilities and activities as required by its Safeguards Agreement. The latest report also confirmed that traces of weapons-grade uranium had been found in Iran.
Iran's foreign minister said in remarks published on Friday that he hoped the board would not be swayed by politics or U.S. pressure.
"We hope the Americans would not pressure the agency and its board of governors to adopt a political stance," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told Iran's Students' News Agency (ISNA). Iran has been under pressure to sign up to the so-called Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that would allow intrusive, short-notice inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Iran has said it is ready to start negotiations on signing the protocol but wants clarifications about some sovereignty issues, a caveat analysts say could lead to delays.
"By answering Iran's questions, it is possible to have the required consensus in Iran for joining the Additional Protocol," Kharrazi said.
"The important questions for us are whether the problems and the suspicions of the parties would be removed after signing the protocol or whether there would be other pressures on Iran."
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