The US wants to lodge a formal complaint against the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency over his suggestion that Iran be allowed to keep some elements of its uranium enrichment program, diplomats said Tuesday.
They said such a concession could undermine UN Security Council attempts to pressure Teheran to fully scrap enrichment.
The diplomats, who demanded anonymity because of the delicate nature of the issue, spoke to The Associated Press before the release of a report from IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei that could act as a trigger for a third set of Security Council sanctions on Teheran over its nuclear defiance.
Their comments on the issue revealed a hardening of positions on how to deal with Iran's determination to expand its enrichment program, a potential pathway to nuclear arms.
In remarks over the past two weeks, ElBaradei has gone public with his view that it is too late to try and force Teheran to scrap its enrichment program - as demanded by the Security Council - and has argued instead for containing it with a view to preventing its further expansion.
"I believe that demand has been superseded by events," ElBaradei told Spain's ABC newspaper. Instead, he reportedly said, "the important thing now is to concentrate on Iran not taking it to industrial scale."
Some members of the agency's decision-making 35-nation board share that view. But the United States and its closest board allies, including Britain, France, Australia, Canada and Japan, fear such comments could weaken unified Security Council resolve on punishing Iran with further sanctions should Wednesday's report fulfill expectations and state that Teheran continues to defy the council on enrichment and other nuclear activities.
Agency officials refused to comment on details of the report ahead of its release to board members and the Security Council on Wednesday. But it was expected to confirm information leaked over the past weeks reflecting that Iran has continued to defy the council demand and has expanded its enrichment activities instead of suspending them.