M A I N   N E W S

UN watchdog puts off decision on Iran
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 3
The emergency meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors at Vienna overshot its scheduled calendar of two-day talks today as the 35-member board held consultations and decided to crystallise views on the Iran issue at an extended session tomorrow.

Diplomatic sources here said efforts were on to find ways to a unanimously passed resolution of the US-backed EU3 (Germany, France and UK) which intends to report the Iranian nuclear programme to the UN Security Council.

Several amendments have been moved on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement countries, seeking that the EU3 resolution, seeking to refer the Iran issue to the Security Council, should wait until the next month when the IAEA submits its technical report on the Iranian nuclear programme in full. What the IAEA board has been discussing so far is an interim technical report.

The situation got complicated when Iran virtually rejected the Russian compromise formula that envisaged enrichment of the Iranian fuel on Russian territory and then its shipment back to Iran.

IAEA Chief El Baradei had yesterday said on the first day of the board’s meeting that:“We are reaching a critical phase but it is not a crisis situation. It is about confidence building and it is not about an imminent threat... Everybody agrees that the only way to move forward is through diplomacy, through negotiation and there is still a window of opportunity for all parties concerned to find a way forward.”

The IAEA Chief said: “We will see how the board will decide on the kind of resolution they will adopt... All who have spoken on the issue, even those who are supporting the Security Council report, are making it very clear that the Security Council is not asked, at this stage to take any action, definitely not before I submit my report in March. All of them are saying this is simply a continuation of diplomacy.”

The EU3 draft resolution, which is now before the board, says the IAEA should report the Iran issue to the Security Council but it is not expected to take any action at least before March.

Meanwhile, Iran has threatened to respond by curbing UN inspections and scrapping talks on Russia’s offer to enrich Iranian uranium to ensure the Islamic Republic cannot divert it for bombs.

Teheran says it only wants nuclear power for electricity.

Moscow and Beijing endorsed an EU-sponsored resolution to put the Council on notice about Iran so long as Teheran was given at least until March to cooperate with UN investigators.

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