AP: U.S. and European negotiators tentatively agreed
Thursday to censure Iran for reneging on a freeze on uranium enrichment and moved closer to setting a deadline on Tehran to dispel suspicions it is trying to make nuclear arms.
The latest version of a draft resolution being prepared for a board of governors meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency and made available to The Associated Press showed ... Associated Press

By ANDREA DUDIKOVA

VIENNA, Austria - U.S. and European negotiators tentatively agreed Thursday to censure Iran for reneging on a freeze on uranium enrichment and moved closer to setting a deadline on Tehran to dispel suspicions it is trying to make nuclear arms.

The latest version of a draft resolution being prepared for a board of governors meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency and made available to The Associated Press showed the two sides sharing "serious concerns" on enrichment but still negotiating a list of demands to make of Iran.

"We are making progress" on the draft being circulated among the 35 board members, said a diplomat from a European Union country.

Another EU diplomat said his group was meeting later in the morning to discuss the latest copy of the draft, containing language both from the Europeans and the Americans.

Both Washington and the European Union want a commitment from Iran to stop enrichment and demand it meet other conditions meant to banish fears Tehran may be interested in nuclear weapons. But the two sides came into the meeting with different views over how to achieve that aim.

The draft being discussed Thursday expressed "serious concern" that Iran "has not heeded repeated calls from the board to suspend ... all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities." And it expressed alarm at Iranian plans to process more than 40 tons of raw uranium into uranium hexafluoride, the feed stock for enrichment.

It also called on Iran to suspend all such activities; called on IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei to submit a report by November reviewing the past two years of his Iran probe, and demanded Iran resolve "resolve all outstanding issues and inconsistencies" feeding fears it may have a weapons program.

A proposal in the draft submitted by the United States, Canada and Australia would also set an Oct. 31 deadline on Iran to meet all the conditions. While no punitive action is directly threatened should it fail to do so, one western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity described the date as an "indirect trigger" that could open the way for referral of Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

The United States is seeking European support to have Tehran taken before the U.N. Security Council if it defies the call for an enrichment freeze and other demands.

Iran is not prohibited from enrichment under its obligations to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But it has faced mounting international pressure to suspend such activities, which can produce uranium for generating power or making nuclear weapons, as a good-faith gesture to prove it is not seeking to make atomic weapons.

The IAEA meeting adjourned Wednesday to allow for back-room negotiations and consultations with capitals. Plans were to reconvene Friday for a vote on a final version of the Iran resolution.

Last week, Iran confirmed an IAEA report that it planned to convert more than 40 tons of raw uranium into uranium hexafluoride, the feed stock for enrichment.

Even before that, international concerns over Iran's nuclear program were growing, fueled by suspicions that Tehran had never really suspended enrichment activities, as it had pledged to do so a year ago.

Hossein Mousavian, Iran's chief delegate to the meeting, suggested Iran was not about to cave in to threats of Security Council action.

"I think one year is enough," he told The Associated Press, when asked if his country would agree to extend its October commitment to suspending enrichment. Mousavian did not name a date for a resumption of enrichment, but suggested it could be "a few months" away.

An IAEA report gave Iran some good marks for cooperating with the most recent phase of a two-year agency probe into the country's nearly two-decade-old covert nuclear program, which surfaced publicly only two years ago. But the report also said Iran must do more to banish all suspicions that it harbors nuclear weapons ambitions.

Mousavian referred to that report in arguing there is no need to demand a further freeze.

"All major necessary confidence building measures have been taken by Iran, and today the agency has full control and supervision," he said. "That's why we believe that (a) one-year suspension is good enough."