New York Times: The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board of governors passed a resolution on Saturday criticizing Iran for a lack of candor over its nuclear program and calling for the country to suspend all uranium enrichment activities that could contribute to producing fuel for a nuclear bomb. New York Times
By CRAIG S. SMITH
PARIS – The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-nation board of governors passed a resolution on Saturday criticizing Iran for a lack of candor over its nuclear program and calling for the country to suspend all uranium enrichment activities that could contribute to producing fuel for a nuclear bomb.
The resolution, which was delayed by haggling over wording about the suspension, said the agency “considers it necessary” that Iran halt all of its uranium enrichment programs and meet all of the agency’s demands before its Nov. 25 meeting.
It said the board would then “decide whether or not further steps are appropriate.” The United States wants Iran’s past breaches of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty referred to the United Nations Security Council, which could decide to impose sanctions against the country.
Uranium enrichment, in which uranium is converted into a gas and spun in centrifuges to concentrate more fissile isotopes, is used to produce fuel for nuclear reactors, but it can also produce uranium suitable for nuclear weapons.
Signatories to the treaty are allowed to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, but the activity can bring countries to within months of being able to produce a bomb.
Iran last year agreed to suspend uranium enrichment after it was found to have concealed an extensive enrichment program, which constituted a breach of its treaty obligations. But it almost immediately began quibbling over what activities that included.
In July, Iran resumed the manufacture of centrifuge parts and the assembly of centrifuge units, though it has upheld its suspension on using those centrifuges to enrich uranium.
The resolution passed on Saturday calls for Iran to stop all enrichment-related activities, including the manufacture and assembly of centrifuge parts, centrifuge testing and the conversion of uranium into gas.
The nuclear agency’s chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, speaking after the resolution passed, said Iran needed to suspend its enrichment activities “in order to restore confidence” in its peaceful intentions, Agence France-Presse reported.
While Iran insists that its nuclear program is designed for power generation and other peaceful purposes, the country’s sluggish response to the nuclear agency’s requests for information and the program’s own inconsistencies have convinced the United States and some other countries that Iran is hiding efforts to build a nuclear bomb.
Besides working on a light-water nuclear reactor near the Iranian port of Bushehr, for example, Iran had secretly begun work on a heavy-water reactor. It is easier to extract bomb-grade plutonium from the spent fuel of heavy-water reactors.
The nuclear agency has asked Iran to explain why it is building the heavy-water reactor and, in June, called for it to halt construction. Iran has not complied.
Washington also suspects that a partially buried bunker on a munitions plant in Parchin, 20 miles southwest of Tehran, could be used to test the kind of high-intensity explosives that surround a core of highly enriched uranium or plutonium in a nuclear implosion bomb.
Hossein Mousavian, the head of the foreign policy committee of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said Friday that Iran would grant the nuclear agency access to the site. “We have never rejected an I.A.E.A. inspection,” he said.
The country has continued to convert small amounts of uranium into the gas used in enrichment centrifuges, despite the nuclear agency’s calls for it to stop. Earlier this month, Iran said it planned to convert more than 40 tons of uranium into gas soon. Experts say that will produce enough uranium hexafluoride gas to yield enriched uranium for several bombs.
Iran also insists that its moratorium on enriching uranium is temporary. “Suspension is not cessation,” Mr. Mousavian said Friday.
Objections from many so-called nonaligned countries delayed the final passage of the resolution, which was drafted by Britain, France and Germany and later amended by the United States. Those countries wanted it made explicit that enrichment activities are allowed to all signatories of the nonproliferation treaty, and that any suspension by Iran would be made voluntary to build international confidence.
The United States spent the morning meeting with several reticent board members that have enrichment programs of their own, searching for wording that would allow the draft resolution to pass without having to submit it to a vote. While resolutions can be passed by vote, the agency prefers working by consensus to avoid politicizing its actions.