By JANINE ZACHARIA
The US Senate late Thursday passed unanimously a resolution urging the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer to the UN Security Council Iranian violations of their pledge not to pursue nuclear weapons.
The Senate said the Security Council may need to impose economic and diplomatic sanctions on Iran to thwart the program. The House approved a similar vote in May.
The Senate resolution expressed "the deep concern of Congress regarding the failure of the Islamic Republic of Iran to adhere to its obligations under a safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the engagement by Iran in activities that appear to be designed to develop nuclear weapons."
The IAEA is expected at its next meeting in September to refer the issue of Iran's alleged nuclear weapons' program to the UN Security Council.
The Senate vote came just before the Congress broke for summer recess, and a day after the release of the final report of the commission that investigated the September 11 attacks. The commission found "strong evidence that Iran facilitated the transit of al Qaeda members into and out of Afghanistan before 9/11, and that some of these were future 9/11 hijackers." The commission said the US government should further investigate the topic.
Earlier this week, a new Israeli intelligence estimate predicted that Iran would have a nuclear bomb by 2007 and said international scrutiny of the program had delayed development.
The Senate resolution, in addition to calling for the UN Security Council to intervene, also urged the European Union "to condition economic and commercial agreements with Iran on the full compliance by Iran with its commitment not to pursue nuclear weapons."
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee applauded passage of the resolution.
"This issue is especially vital given the IAEA's revelations regarding Iran's blatant pattern of deception and obfuscation, and the overwhelming evidence of its pursuit of nuclear weapons and repeated violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," the lobby said in a statement issued Friday.