The Times: Most members of the 35- nation International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) favour referring Iran to the UN Security Council because of its nuclear programme, British diplomats said yesterday.
By Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor
MOST members of the 35- nation International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) favour referring Iran to the UN Security Council because of its nuclear programme, British diplomats said yesterday.
As member states of the nuclear watchdog met in Vienna to decide how to respond to Tehrans defiant stand, British, French and German officials lobbied for possible international sanctions against Iran.
A British diplomat said: We have a critical mass of support (for referral). He said that the approach set out by President Ahmadinejad in his speech to the UN General Assembly on Saturday had hardened attitudes towards Tehran.
About 20 countries are now thought to favour referral, including all European Union states, America, Australia, Singapore and Peru. Twelve of the Non-Aligned Movement states are opposed but may be persuaded to abstain. The strongest opponent, Russia, says that matters concerning Irans nuclear programme should be dealt with only by the IAEA.
The Bush Administration, which has long campaigned to have Iran referred to the UN, said that the move was long overdue. Gregory Schulte, the US envoy to the IAEA, said: The board had wanted Iran to pursue a course of co-operation and negotiation. Instead, Iran appears to be pursuing a course of rhetoric and confrontation while continuing the fuel-cycle activities that give us such concern.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, said that diplomacy may yet achieve compromise and that the ball was in Irans court.
Mohammad Akhondzadeh, the Iranian delegate, said that Irans intention was peace, peace and peace.