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Archive for Saturday, September 24, 2005

EU proposes U.N. Security Council referral for Iran

September 24, 2005

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— The European Union submitted a motion on Friday that sets Iran up for referral to the U.N. Security Council, and pushed for a decision Saturday when the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency reconvenes.

Iran increased its own pressure against referral, threatening to restart uranium enrichment - a possible pathway to nuclear arms, diplomats accredited to the agency told The Associated Press. They said Iran also warned it could block access for inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency it had agreed to under a document that Iran has not yet ratified.

The diplomats - who sought anonymity because their information was confidential - said both threats were contained in unsigned letters and shown by a member of the Iranian delegation to the IAEA head, Mohamed Elbaradei.

If signed and submitted, the letters become part of the official record.

The EU motion - a draft resolution to the IAEA's board of governors - calls on the 35-nation board to consider reporting Iran to the council. As grounds, it mentions noncompliance with provisions of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty and suspicions that Iran's nuclear activities could threaten international peace and security, according to a draft copy obtained by the AP.

International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei, left, talks with a member of the board of governors representing South Africa, Abdul Samad Minty, center, and Iran's permanent representative to the UN in Vienna, Mohammad Mehdi Akhondzadeh, before an IAEA board of governors meeting Friday in Vienna, Austria.

International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei, left, talks with a member of the board of governors representing South Africa, Abdul Samad Minty, center, and Iran's permanent representative to the UN in Vienna, Mohammad Mehdi Akhondzadeh, before an IAEA board of governors meeting Friday in Vienna, Austria.

U.S. backing motion

A Bush administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because negotiations were in progress at the time, said the United States was willing to accept the motion as an interim measure.

Any resolution still must be accepted by the board before it has validity. The board agreed to reconvene Saturday and the Europeans, backed by the Americans and their allies, were expected to call then for approval by consensus or, if that proved impossible, for a vote.

The board normally makes decisions by consensus, but the divisive nature of the draft was expected to result in a vote, which the Europeans were expected to win against Iran's allies at the IAEA.

The Security Council could impose sanctions if it determines that Iran violated the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but veto-carrying council members Russia and China - which oppose even referral to the council - were certain to vote against such action, and the draft made no mention of sanctions.

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