EU proposal nears Iran to sec. council referral

Following EU push, Iran repeats threat of enriching uranium.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
September 24, 2005 02:28

 
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The European Union on Friday submitted a motion that sets Iran up for referral to the UN Security Council, and pushed for a decision Saturday when the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency reconvenes. Iran increased its pressure against referral, said diplomats accredited to the agency, telling The Associated Press that Tehran was threatening to restart uranium enrichment - a possible pathway to nuclear arms. Iran also warned, they said, that it could stop granting IAEA inspectors extra access under an agreement it had signed, but not yet ratified. Diplomats - who demanded 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 valid. 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. The board must still accept any resolution 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 consensus approval 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. Still, it was unequivocal in saying that - unless Iran ends uranium conversion and clears up questions remaining about its past nuclear activities - the grounds exist for Security Council referral. Noncompliance with a country's obligations under the nonproliferation treaty is automatic grounds for a report to the Security Council under IAEA statutes, and the draft stated, "Iran's many failures and breaches of its obligations ... constitute noncompliance." Additionally, Iran's spotty record on cooperating with an IAEA probe since that began in 2002 has resulted in an "absence of confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes," the document said. That finding puts Iran "within the competence of the Security Council, as the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security," the text said. Leaving a specific time frame for referral open, the draft said that it was up to the IAEA board to decide on the "timing and content" of any report to the Security Council. The draft also outlined what Tehran needed to do to avert the threat of referral, including: - Giving IAEA experts "access to individuals, documentation relating to (nuclear) procurement, dual use equipment, certain military owned workshops and research and development locations." - A return to "full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related activity ... and reprocessing activity" - allusions to the resumption by Iran last month of uranium conversion - a precursor of enrichment, which can result in either nuclear fuel or the fissile core of warheads. - Iran's ratification of the additional agreement with the IAEA giving its inspectors the right to more pervasive probes of Iran's nuclear activities and - until it does - to act as if that agreement was in force. Diplomats said earlier that the Europeans were considering toning down their US-backed Security Council drive in hopes of enlisting Moscow's backing. But from the tone of the draft submitted, it appeared the European Union decided to go with a harsher text, even at the risk of alienating Moscow. The Europeans for years avoided US demands for support in its push to haul Iran before the Security Council. They reluctantly swung behind Washington last month, after Tehran effectively walked away from talks with Britain, France and Germany meant to reduce suspicions about its nuclear aims and began uranium conversion. - A return to "full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related activity ... and reprocessing activity" - allusions to the resumption by Iran last month of uranium conversion - a precursor of enrichment, which can result in either nuclear fuel or the fissile core of warheads. - Iran's ratification of the additional agreement with the IAEA giving its inspectors the right to more pervasive probes of Iran's nuclear activities and - until it does so - to act as if that agreement was in force. Diplomats said earlier that the Europeans were considering toning down their US-backed Security Council drive in hopes of enlisting Moscow's backing. But from the tone of the draft submitted, it appeared the European Union decided to go with a harsher text, even at the risk of alienating Moscow. The Europeans for years avoided US demands of support for its push to refer Iran to the Security Council. Europe reluctantly swung behind Washington last month, after Tehran effectively walked away from talks with Britain, France and Germany that were meant to reduce suspicions about its nuclear aims and began uranium conversion.

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