Iran Nuclear NewsIAEA board demands Iran resume nuclear freeze

IAEA board demands Iran resume nuclear freeze

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Reuters: The governing board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Thursday unanimously called on Iran to halt sensitive atomic work it resumed this week, a demand Tehran has rejected as unacceptable and illegal.
The resolution adopted by the International Atomic Energy
Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors says Iran must resume a full suspension of all nuclear fuel related activities and asks the agency to verify Tehran’s compliance. Reuters

By Louis Charbonneau and Francois Murphy

VIENNA – The governing board of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Thursday unanimously called on Iran to halt sensitive atomic work it resumed this week, a demand Tehran has rejected as unacceptable and illegal.

The resolution adopted by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) board of governors says Iran must resume a full suspension of all nuclear fuel related activities and asks the agency to verify Tehran’s compliance.

“The resolution on Iran was just adopted without a vote by consensus, full consensus. All 35 members of the board agreed the language of the resolution text,” IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming told reporters.

The IAEA board began meeting on Tuesday but adjourned to allow the EU time to negotiate the Iran resolution with the board members. It reconvened on Thursday to approve the draft after days of backroom negotiations on the text.

The resolution, drafted by Britain, Germany and France, requests IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei “to provide a comprehensive report on the implementation of Iran’s NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) Safeguards Agreement and this resolution by 3 September 2005”.

Iran resumed activities at the Isfahan uranium conversion plant on Monday. Despite U.S. and EU calls that it not resume work there, Tehran on Wednesday broke the U.N. seals and made the facility fully operational.

The text did not say Iran should be referred to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions.

Iran rejected the draft resolution, saying it violated the NPT, the global pact against nuclear arms.

“The European Union’s resolution is unacceptable and we reject it,” Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation and a senior member of its delegation to the IAEA meeting, told Reuters before the resolution was approved.

“Iran considers the Paris Agreement as broken if the EU resolution is approved … Iran does not accept the resolution as it is not legal and also it is against the NPT,” he said.

SECURITY COUNCIL IN SEPTEMBER?

Iran voluntarily suspended all sensitive atomic work in November 2004 after reaching a deal with the EU trio called the Paris Agreement, under which Tehran froze work related to atomic fuel production while negotiating a permanent deal with the EU.

Earlier this week, Iran rejected the EU’s offer of political and economic incentives if it permanently abandoned enriched uranium fuel production, calling it “an insult to the Iranian nation for which the EU3 must apologise”.

Iran denies Western accusations that its atomic programme is a front for covert bomb-making. It says it needs to develop nuclear power as an alternative energy source to meet booming electricity demand and keep its oil and gas reserves for export.

The resolution “urges Iran to re-establish full suspension of all enrichment related activities … and to permit the Director General to reinstate the seals that have been removed at (Isfahan).”

EU diplomats said if Iran does not comply, they will ask the board to refer the matter to the Security Council in September.

Under the NPT, which Iran has signed, Tehran may process and enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. But the EU trio say the only way to prove peaceful intentions is to renounce all sensitive technologies.

Uranium conversion is the first step in process of creating enriched uranium, which can fuel nuclear power plants or, when very highly enriched, atomic weapons.

IRAN MAY STILL BE HIDING THINGS

The draft also implied that the Europeans believe Tehran may still have some nuclear secrets. It said “outstanding issues relating to Iran’s nuclear programme have yet to be resolved and … the Agency is not yet in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared activities in Iran”.

However, it also left open “the possibility of further discussions” between Iran and the EU trio aimed at resolving the nuclear impasse between Islamic republic and the West.

One European diplomat said the draft was “harsh enough to satisfy the Americans but something the developing countries can live with”.

While Western countries, Russia and China backed the text from the beginning, some developing states such as India, Indonesia and Brazil opposed it. EU diplomats negotiated up to when the board began meeting to win a consensus.

Some developing countries fear the attempt to force Iran to give up sensitive nuclear activities could one day be used against their own nuclear programmes and therefore object to it.

To allay their fears, the EU trio included a clause “recognising the right of states to the development and practical application of atomic energy for peaceful purposes.”

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