IAEA decision on Iran postponed amid squabbles

3rd February 2006, Comments 0 comments

3 February 2006, VIENNA - The meeting to decide whether or not to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme was once again postponed on Friday as discussions on the content of the resolution continued. Although no official reason was given for delaying the critical International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) vote - which has dragged on since the meeting began on Thursday - until 0900 GMT Saturday, diplomatic sources said that discussions over the content of the resolution were co

3 February 2006

VIENNA - The meeting to decide whether or not to refer Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme was once again postponed on Friday as discussions on the content of the resolution continued.

Although no official reason was given for delaying the critical International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEA) vote - which has dragged on since the meeting began on Thursday - until 0900 GMT Saturday, diplomatic sources said that discussions over the content of the resolution were continuing.

The non-aligned member states have apparently called for drastic changes that would neuter the resolution put forward by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany on Monday.

However, the issue that may be causing the most discussion is a request by Middle Eastern states to include a paragraph calling for a nuclear-free Middle East.

According to the diplomatic source, the US would never accept this modification as Israel, which already possesses nuclear weapons, is a close ally.

The only action of the day came when the deputy to Iran's chief nuclear negotiator launched a last-ditch effort to head off the referral, saying that any such decision would kill off a Russian compromise deal to enrich uranium in Russia for the Islamic state.

"If they make this historic mistake, there will be no way to continue with the Russian proposal," Javad Vaidi, the deputy head of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (NSC), told reporters.

Russian Ambassador Grigory Berdennikov, however, said that Vadai's statement was "wrong" and the proposal would remain on the table.

The resolution is expected to pass with a majority, but an agreement has been reached for the council to hold off on action until IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei submits his assessment on March 6.

ElBaradei on Thursday called the arrangement a "window of opportunity" for Iran, but Tehran seems set to slam the window shut, with Vaidi dismissing the move as irrelevant and "an end to diplomacy."

"If anything happens - whether it is called a referral, report or information - our parliament is obliged by law to finish the voluntary suspension (of uranium enrichment) and commence peaceful nuclear activities," he said.

The law in question was passed by the Iranian parliament on November 22 last year. Although the Russian deal is not included in it, Vaidi said it would be impossible to continue with post-referral.

Vaidi blamed the US and the EU Trio of Britain, France and Germany for the problems.

"The US is in hyper-confrontational mode," he said. "If it has any common sense left, it will give diplomacy a chance."

Although the resolution is expected to pass with a majority, the US and EU have supposedly been attempting to drum up more support during the unofficial discussions.

The IAEA's 35-member board of governors spent much of Thursday discussing the issue before breaking for separate talks.

The US statement unsurprisingly called for Iran to be referred. US Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Schulte added, however, that the referral was necessary only to "open a new level of diplomacy."

Berdennikov said that Russia would definitely vote "yes," but the Chinese Ambassador was more guarded.

"We believe that there is room within the IAEA to resolve this," Wu Hailong said. "Iran should give up uranium enrichment, but others should remain calm and patient."

German Ambassador Herbert Honsowitz spoke on behalf of the EU Trio and also reiterated that diplomacy would not be over.

However, Iran has repeatedly said through many different sources that any form of resolution would bring diplomacy to an abrupt end.

According to an IAEA spokesman, only Syria and Cuba have displayed out-and-out opposition to the resolution, but Venezuela may vote "no."

The resolution accuses Iran of failing to cooperate fully with the IAEA, of concealing its nuclear programme and of possessing a document related to the construction of nuclear-weapon components.

DPA

Subject: German news

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