Iran Nuclear NewsSenior Iranian envoy warns new U.N. sanctions would end...

Senior Iranian envoy warns new U.N. sanctions would end Tehran’s nuclear cooperation

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AP: A senior Iranian envoy warned the United States and its allies on Wednesday against pushing for new U.N. Security Council sanctions against his country, suggesting Tehran could retaliate by ending cooperation with U.N. experts probing its nuclear program. Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria (AP) – A senior Iranian envoy warned the United States and its allies on Wednesday against pushing for new U.N. Security Council sanctions against his country, suggesting Tehran could retaliate by ending cooperation with U.N. experts probing its nuclear program.

U.S. and European diplomats in turn criticized Tehran for not doing enough to ease international concerns and said its recent willingness to allow a partial probe of its past nuclear activities was not enough to banish fears it wanted to make an atomic bomb.

The officials spoke to The Associated Press as International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei put the finishing touches to his latest Iran report.

The restricted document — a snapshot of Iranian nuclear developments over the past three months — would be made available to the IAEA’s 35-nation board on Thursday, diplomats said. It will serve as the key signpost at a Sept. 10 board meeting that will focus both on Iran’s cooperation with IAEA investigators and its continued refusal to suspend uranium enrichment and heed other Security Council demands.

Diplomats familiar with the report’s contents told the AP that much of it would reiterate the findings contained in a joint Iranian-IAEA memorandum published Monday on the agency’s Web site that summarized the extent of Tehran’s cooperation with the agency’s nuclear probe.

Suggesting significant progress, that document said that the IAEA — the U.N. nuclear watchdog — considered that information provided by Iran on past small-scale plutonium experiments had “resolved” agency concerns about the issue. The memorandum also outlined a timetable for Iranian answers to other questions about programs and activities that — like the plutonium work — could be linked to a nuclear weapons program.

Staking out Tehran’s position on the report, Ali-Ashgar Soltanieh, Tehran’s chief IAEA delegate, said he expected it to reflect the “positive step taken by Iran” in cooperating over recent weeks with agency investigators. And he indirectly criticized the United States, which last week called Iranian cooperation insufficient to stave off a third round of U.N. sanctions over its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment and other activities that could be used to make nuclear arms.

“Any action by the U.N. Security Council will deteriorate the situation,” he told the AP. “Therefore it is highly expected that this positive development will not be put in jeopardy by any immature and unjustified measures.”

But EU diplomats and a U.S. official disagreed, reflecting their countries’ contention that Tehran needed to do much more to avert the threat of new sanctions.

Reflecting their unhappiness with the memorandum — which they considered too favorable toward Iran — senior representatives of the U.S., Britain, France and Germany on Wednesday urged ElBaradei to introduce more critical language in his Thursday report, said other diplomats. They, — like their colleagues — demanded anonymity for discussing confidential matters.

In particular, the representatives questioned the assertion that the issue of Iran’s plutonium experiments — and fears that some of the fissile material had gone missing — had been resolved, urging the agency to reopen the issue by demanding new samples from the Iranians.

“The word ‘resolved’ is actually troublesome,” said a U.S. official. “It hasn’t been resolved as far as we’re concerned.”

And an EU diplomat accredited to the Vienna-based agency said his country had “serious concerns” that the timetable, which pushes discussions of some issues into November, “seems to deliberately string out the issues as long as possible.”

Beyond that, the main concern — suspension of uranium enrichment — is ignored in the memorandum, said the diplomat.

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