AFP: The international nuclear energy watchdog fears that a resumption by Iran of sensitive nuclear activity is inevitable, diplomats in Vienna said Tuesday. Earlier Tehran said it would decide within days whether to resume some such activities, despite fresh warnings that the move could bring talks with the European Union to an end and result in possible UN sanctions. AFP
VIENNA – The international nuclear energy watchdog fears that a resumption by Iran of sensitive nuclear activity is inevitable, diplomats in Vienna said Tuesday.
Earlier Tehran said it would decide within days whether to resume some such activities, despite fresh warnings that the move could bring talks with the European Union to an end and result in possible UN sanctions.
“It (the decision) will come at the end of the week (Friday) at the latest,” said Ali Agha Mohammadi, a spokesman for the Islamic republic’s Supreme National Security Council.
“This is inevitable”, said one diplomat familiar with the workings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations agency established to supervise nuclear activity.
A move by Iran could lead to an emergency meeting of the IAEA governing board, according to another diplomat.
“The indications are that this is going to happen very, very soon if not this week,” he said.
The Iranians announced on April 30 they planned to resume some operations relating to the enrichment of uranium, which has both civil and military applications.
This could mean the resumption of operations at Isfahan, where mined uranium, or yellowcake, is first converted into uranium tetrafluoride (UF4) and then into uranium hexafluoride (UF6).
Diplomats from Britain, France and Germany have made clear that any resumption by Iran of fuel cycle work — the focus of international fears the country may be seeking to develop nuclear weapons — would be considered a violation of a November 2004 suspension agreement that opened the negotiations with Tehran.
It would risk ending talks with the Europeans which have so far protected Iran from the issue being referred to the United Nations Security Council
Washington believes that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are military, in spite of denials by Tehran, and wants the issue referred to the UN.
The Europeans want Iran to give up for good its enrichment programme and have said they could end talks if enrichment resumes.
“If this (resumption) is the case, the Iranians will send IAEA a letter saying ‘we are planning to do A, B and C, we are going to cut the seals’,” a diplomat said.
“Then the agency will send inspectors to actually independently verify that they are doing what they said they want to do. Then (IAEA chief) ElBaradei would write a letter to the members of the (IAEA governing) board (…) They, in particular the EU, would decide what the next step is, they could call for an immediate board of governors (meeting) and press for a reference to the Security Council.”
The 35 member states could also wait for the next regular session scheduled for June 13.
They could then decide to refer Iran to the Security Council with the prospect of international sanctions, though those remain uncertain, or give Tehran a last warning before the issue is sent to the council.
“Why are they doing it?” said a Vienna-based diplomat. “Your guess is as good as mine.
“It could be that they want to establish their right under their interpretation of the non-proliferation treaty. Maybe this is part of the electoral campaign (for the June 17 presidential election). Maybe they think the timing is in their favour.”