The resolution called on Iran to suspend all "enrichment-related activities" and said the agency's governing board regretted Iran's suspension of enrichment as promised last year had fallen far short of what had been expected. Reuters
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA - The U.N. nuclear watchdog called on Iran on Saturday to immediately halt activities related to uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to make atomic weapons.
The resolution called on Iran to suspend all "enrichment-related activities" and said the agency's governing board regretted Iran's suspension of enrichment as promised last year had fallen far short of what had been expected.
France, Britain and Germany formally submitted a toughly worded draft resolution to the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday which called on Tehran to immediately freeze its uranium enrichment program.
The United States fully endorsed the draft resolution which was passed unanimously by the IAEA board of governors.
"The resolution was passed by consensus," IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters outside the closed-door meeting of the agency's board.
Enrichment is the most controversial part of Iran's program since it can produce nuclear material for weapons.
Iran denies any plan to develop nuclear arms and insists its program is intended only to produce electricity. It says its enrichment facilities would be used only to make low-enriched fuel for power plants, not highly-enriched fuel for bombs.
A Western diplomat close to the negotiations said IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei had broken deadlock in the talks by assuring the non-aligned states and Brazil that the Iran enrichment freeze would set no precedent for other states.
Brazil and South Africa also have enrichment programs and feared that one day they too could be told to freeze their commercial enrichment activities, diplomats said.
The resolution did not call for the board to report Tehran to the U.N. Security Council as Washington had hoped. Nor did it include a "trigger" clause that would require the board to report Iran to the Council, which can impose economic sanctions, when it meets again in November.
However, the resolution says the board will decide whether "further steps" were needed in relation to Iran's commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Despite the compromises, Washington was quick to claim victory.
"This resolution sends an unmistakeable signal to Iran that continuing its nuclear weapons program will bring it inevitably before the Security Council," chief U.S. delegate to the IAEA meeting, Jackie Sanders, told reporters.
The resolution also called on Iran to grant full and prompt access to the IAEA's inspector and provide them with any further information needed by Nov. 25.
Iran's chief delegate at the meeting, Hossein Mousavian, told Reuters on Friday he could not rule out the possibility Tehran would comply with the resolution by suspending its enrichment program for a few more months.
U.S. Under Secretary of State John Bolton dismissed this as an obvious ploy by Iran to avoid a Security Council referral.
The IAEA has been investigating Iran's nuclear program for two years. Although it has found many concealed activities that could be used to develop weapons, it has found no "smoking gun" that would prove U.S. allegations of Iranian bomb plans.