Iran Nuclear NewsWest sets deadline for Iran to freeze uranium enrichment

West sets deadline for Iran to freeze uranium enrichment

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The Guardian: Four western countries set the scene yesterday for a showdown with Iran by demanding that it freeze its uranium enrichment activities immediately.
The US, Britain, France and Germany agreed on a form of words at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, which threatened tough action in November if Iran remained defiant.
The Guardian

Ian Traynor

Four western countries set the scene yesterday for a showdown with Iran by demanding that it freeze its uranium enrichment activities immediately.

The US, Britain, France and Germany agreed on a form of words at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, which threatened tough action in November if Iran remained defiant.

The resolution, drafted by the three European countries, said Iran needed “immediately to suspend all enrichment-related activities”, and asked the IAEA’s director general, Mohamed El Baradei, for a full accounting of the Iranian programme before the next IAEA board meeting in November.

Dr El Baradei will be asked for a definitive verdict on whether Iran has a covert project to build an atom bomb.

The demand for a freeze was being contested last night in Vienna by countries from the non-aligned movement. While it was expected to be endorsed, the session was adjourned for the third time this week and the 35-member board is to meet this morning.

Yesterday Dr El Baradei said the latest site to draw Washington’s suspicion – at Parchin, south of Tehran – showed no signs of nuclear-related activities.

The resolution said the November meeting, after the US presidential election, would “decide whether or not further steps are appropriate”, meaning Iran could be reported to the UN security council for sanctions. This is the policy pursued by the US but resisted, for the moment, by the Europeans.

The US immediately denounced as a ploy Iran’s offer to extend its freeze on uranium enrichment, and Tehran accused Washington of manipulating the Vienna meeting for political reasons. Iran also threatened to take the IAEA to the international court of justice in The Hague.

Yesterday’s draft came after four previous attempts in Vienna this week, reflecting the acrimony involved in reaching a consensus.

While all the signs are that the two-year-old crisis is coming to a head, the draft left open the possibility of it dragging on. The final document said the IAEA’s board would “remain seized of the matter”, meaning it could remain on the board’s agenda beyond November.

Earlier versions did not contain this clause.

Although the Europeans have been reluctant to go to the security council, there is concern that Iran has been playing for time and the longer the crisis drags the closer they will be to an atomic bomb.

· Dr El Baradei will visit South Korea early next month to discuss Seoul’s nuclear research after the country admitted it had enriched some uranium and separated plutonium.

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