condy rice 88.
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The US is trying to convene an emergency meeting of the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Committee to discuss the latest developments regarding the Iranian nuclear project and to demand an immediate referral of the issue to the UN Security Council.
The Iranian decision to reopen its uranium enrichment plants is seen by Western diplomatic sources as the "moment of truth" for the international community and as a last chance to stop Iran from achieving nuclear capability.
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said Tuesday that the US views the Iranian decision as "a serious escalation on the part of Iran on the nuclear issue" and stressed that the it is time for the world to take action.
"What you see here is the international community coming out and sending a very clear message to Iran that their behavior is unacceptable," McCormack added.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other US officials have begun to meet with officials from member countries in the IAEA Board of Governors in an attempt to reach an agreement on convening the board within two weeks.
According to Western diplomatic sources, the US now enjoys the support of most of its European partners for a decision to refer Iran immediately to the Security Council.
The main effort is focused now on Russia, which tends to agree for a referral but it is not yet clear on what conditions, and China, which opposes the referral and would like to see the Iranian issue remaining in the hands of the IAEA, which does not have the power to impose sanctions. The US is also in discussions with South Africa and India, to make sure they will join Europe in voting for the referral.
Though the Iranians have declared that the reopening of the enrichment plant is intended solely for research purposes, sources in Washington said that running a small scale experiment in which the Iranians would cascade 164 centrifuges is more than mere research.
According to the sources, the number of centrifuges used is significant enough to form a sample test that, after working out all the problems and making it run properly, can be expanded easily to 5,000 centrifuges, which are sufficient for enriching uranium for military purposes.
The main diplomatic issue on the table now is under what conditions will the IAEA refer Iran to the Security Council. The US, joined by Britain and France, would like for all members of the Board of Governors to agree, prior to the meeting, on an exact language of the referral that would include taking steps against Iran if it does not comply with the demand of the international community to halt its nuclear program.