AFP: The United States is lobbying hard for Iran to be referred quickly to the UN Security Council if it fails to meet a September 3 deadline to suspend nuclear fuel work that could be used to make atomic weapons, diplomats said Wednesay. The United States is “working hard behind the scenes” to build consensus against Iran within the 35-nation board of governors of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which could send the matter to the Security Council for possible economic sanctions, a Western diplomat told AFP. AFP
by Michael Adler
VIENNA – The United States is lobbying hard for Iran to be referred quickly to the UN Security Council if it fails to meet a September 3 deadline to suspend nuclear fuel work that could be used to make atomic weapons, diplomats said Wednesay.
The United States is “working hard behind the scenes” to build consensus against Iran within the 35-nation board of governors of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which could send the matter to the Security Council for possible economic sanctions, a Western diplomat told AFP.
The IAEA board, which is to receive a report on Iran on September 3 from agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, has called on Tehran to reinstate a suspension of nuclear fuel work, which resumed in early August after a hiatus since November 2004.
The suspension paved the way for talks that began last December in which the European Union sought guarantees from Iran that it does not intend to make nuclear weapons, despite Washington claming that Tehran is doing this.
The Western diplomat, who asked not to be named, said the United States and its European allies agreed they “now need to do a full-court lobbying press on other board members, especially Russia, China, South Africa, India and other influential NAM (non-aligned) types.”
A senior European diplomat said these countries were reluctant to send Iran to the Security Council since the IAEA has not found the Islamic Republic formally in non-compliance with nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) safeguards requirements.
The United States has failed, mainly for this reason, in several attempts to win referral to the Council since the IAEA began investigating Iran’s nuclear program in February 2003.
But this time Washington will have support from the EU if Iran does not reinstate the suspension.
There is apparently a difference on timing however.
The IAEA board is to meet in September to review ElBaradei’s report, either shortly after September 3 in emergency session or at a regularly scheduled meeting on September 19.
The United States is pushing for an emergency session on September 6 or 7 but the Europeans and others may want to hold to the September 19 date in order to allow diplomacy at the UN world summit in New York from September 14-16.
“You can be sure (UN Secretary General Kofi) Annan and ElBaradei will use this summit to have talks, and the Iranian president will be there,” the European diplomat said.
A non-aligned diplomat said Russia is “not in favor of a September board other than the normal board” since this would “cast a pall on the proceedings in New York.”
But a Western diplomat said the United States is convinced it already has a case, as the IAEA has said that Iran hid nuclear activities for 18 years until the investigation began and has uncovered other reporting failures since.
London-based non-proliferation analyst Gary Samore said the West is convinced it has enough votes on the IAEA board to send the matter to the Security Council but will still be seeking a unanimous vote, as is the tradition at the IAEA.
“I assume this issue is going to New York by the end of the month. I don’t see any room for delay and the Iranians are not showing any signs that they are going to back down,” Samore said.
ElBaradei has said that “the jury is still out” on whether Iran has undeclared nuclear activities, although all the activity it has declared has been verified by IAEA inspections.
The Western diplomat said the US lobbying includes “intelligence briefings on Iran’s (alleged) weapons program and Powerpoint briefings in Vienna on the economic and resource absurdity of Iran pursuing fuel cycle capabilities.”
The United States and other Western countries argue that Iran, one of the world’s major oil producers, does not need nuclear energy and cannot in any case make enough enriched uranium to run an atomic power plant it is building with Russian help, for which the Russians will supply the fuel.
Iran on Wednesday stuck by its decision to resume fuel work, in comments a day after EU negotiators Britain, France and Germany announced they had cancelled talks with Iran scheduled for next week in Paris.