AFP: UN atomic inspectors were Thursday putting the final touches on a report on Iran’s nuclear program as EU negotiators rejected an offer by Russia to host a meeting aimed at resolving the standoff, diplomats said. VIENNA, Nov 17 (AFP) – UN atomic inspectors were Thursday putting the final touches on a report on Iran’s nuclear program as EU negotiators rejected an offer by Russia to host a meeting aimed at resolving the standoff, diplomats said.
The report is to be presented to a meeting in Vienna next Thursday of the 35-nation board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which will consider whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
EU negotiators Britain, Germany and France have turned down a Russian offer to host an EU-Iran meeting in Moscow next week so the two sides could “talk about getting back to talks,” a diplomat told AFP.
“Moscow is off, so we go to the board without that kind of prelude,” a European diplomat said.
Russia has taken a higher profile in the dispute by suggesting a compromise under which Tehran would be allowed to convert uranium, with actual enrichment — the key next step — to take place in Russia.
Senior officials from Britain, Germany and France will meet representatives from Russia, the United States and China in London on Friday.
A Western diplomat said the focus will be “on what action the board needs to take to keep effective pressure on Iran.”
Iran insists on its right to the full nuclear fuel cycle, which it calls a peaceful effort to generate electricity but which the United States charges is used to conceal secret weapons work.
No startling revelations were expected in the report to the board from IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, the latest in an IAEA investigation that began in February 2003. The report is expected to be sent to board members on Friday.
“There is no big find,” a diplomat close to the IAEA told AFP.
Initial results from an IAEA inspection of the Parchin military site this month showed no sign of nuclear activity, diplomats have said, in an apparent strengthening of Iran’s case. Final results, however, are not yet in.
Washington alleges that Iran is doing nuclear weapons work at the explosives testing center.
Diplomats say that Tehran appears to be showing more cooperation with IAEA investigators in order to avoid referral to the Security Council.
An inspection team in October “got … information about the P1 (centrifuge) program that they (Iran) had been withholding before,” a Western diplomat said.
Diplomats said the IAEA wants “the whole story” of a 1987 offer to sell nuclear technology to Iran by an international smuggling network run by the now disgraced father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, Abdul Qadeer Khan.
The IAEA also wants more information on centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium; and access to the Lavizan site where weapons-related work is suspected.
In addition, the agency wants to clear up questions about possible work in adapting missiles to carry nuclear-capable warheads.
A diplomat close to the IAEA said the agency may decide that it wants to hold off on referral to the Security Council since new information is still coming in.
Meanwhile, the IAEA board is stymied by the fact that Russia — Iran’s ally and supplier of nuclear technology — opposes the push by the United States and the European Union to bring Tehran before the Security Council.
Talks with the EU aimed at securing guarantees that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful collapsed last August when Iran restarted uranium conversion, nine months after suspending the work as a confidence-building measure.
In September, the IAEA board passed a resolution calling on Iran to cease all nuclear fuel work, to return to talks with the EU and to cooperate fully in the IAEA’s investigation.
But Iran on Wednesday started to convert a new batch of uranium ore into feedstock gas for enriching uranium into either reactor fuel or weapons material.
A diplomat said the new conversion work was “a slap in the face” for efforts toward a compromise.