VIENNA – The 35- nation board of the UN nuclear watchdog censured Iran
on Thursday for defying international demands to curb uranium enrichment and
failing to address mounting disquiet about its suspected research into atomic
Two days after Israel ramped up threats to attack Iran, the board
overwhelmingly passed a resolution voicing “serious concern” about Tehran’s
nuclear advances but also making clear its desire for a peaceful resolution of
Russia and China joined four US-led Western powers in sponsoring
the resolution to display big power unity on Iran. Only Cuba voted against.
Three countries, including Egypt, abstained, according to diplomats who took
part in the closed-door meeting at International Atomic Energy Agency
headquarters in Vienna.
“The diplomatic pressure on Iran is increasing.
The isolation is increasing,” US envoy Robert Wood said.
envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said such resolutions were
counterproductive. Iran has sallied ahead with its nuclear program despite a
series of similar resolutions since 2006 as well as harsh economic
The difference now, though, is that the need for a diplomatic
breakthrough is becoming urgent given Israel’s increasingly strident demand that
Iran be set a deadline to cooperate or risk the Jewish state launching air
strikes that many fear could ignite a devastating Middle East war.
IAEA resolution] will only complicate the situation and jeopardize the
cooperative environment which we desperately need,” Soltanieh told reporters
after the vote.
The resolution faults Iran for ignoring UN Security
Council calls on it to suspend uranium enrichment and open up to investigations
of signs that it seeks nuclear arms know-how.
Six world powers had tabled
a resolution text on Wednesday, aiming to raise pressure on Iran to relent, a
day after Israel signaled it was almost out of patience with the use of
diplomacy and sanctions to try to rein in the Islamic Republic.
Africa, like Iran a member of the Non-Aligned Movement of mostly developing
nations, earlier plunged the meeting into confusion by putting forward an
amendment which some Western diplomats said might have weakened the language
But a compromise was hammered out during a threehour
adjournment of the meeting, the diplomats said, satisfying the US, Russia,
France, China, Britain and Germany.
The amendment concerned a section of
the text demanding that Iran immediately implement a yet-to-be agreed framework
accord with the IAEA on how the agency should conduct its investigation into
suspected nuclear explosives research in the Islamic state.
compromise changed the original text but not as far as the South African
proposal, easing Western fears that it could lower the heat on Tehran to come
clean with IAEA sleuths.
The IAEA has tried in a series of high-profile
meetings with Iran that began in January to agree a “Structured Approach” on how
to carry out its inquiry.
IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano said this
week that no concrete results had been achieved, calling the lack of progress
“Iran has not engaged seriously and without preconditions
in talks aimed at restoring international confidence in the exclusively peaceful
nature of its nuclear program,” the 27-nation European Union said in a statement
to the board. “Iran’s procrastination is unacceptable.”
Wood, the US
envoy, accused Iran of “systematically demolishing” a facility at the Parchin
military site that IAEA inspectors want to visit as part of their
“Iran has been taking measures that appear consistent with
an effort to remove evidence of its past activities at Parchin,” he told the
Soltanieh dismissed what he called the “noise about
cleaning” and “distorted information” about Parchin, a vast military complex
southeast of Tehran where the IAEA suspects Iran has carried out explosives
tests relevant for atom bombs.
Israel has recently ratcheted up its
criticism of Iran and of the international community for not doing more to stop
its nuclear ambitions.
Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor
publicly disagreed on Thursday with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s call for
Iran to be confronted with a “red line” beyond which its nuclear program would
face military attack.
He called for international sanctions against
Tehran to be intensified “so it understands that the price it is paying is
mounting and that the only way to be rid of it is to stop the [nuclear] race, to
arrive at an agreement, or an international understanding, that it is calling it
Meridor, part of the security cabinet, took a more moderate view
of a nuclear-armed Iran than the premier, who has likened that prospect to a
“I don’t want to speak in apocalyptic... Holocaust
terms,” Meridor said. “I think that we are strong and we will overcome the
challenges, but this is a serious challenge.”