Russia, West agree on Iran nuke text

Russia, West agree on Iran nuke text

Russia, West agree on Iran nuke text

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano is seen in this photo. REUTERS Photo

A new resolution from the U.N. atomic agency has against criticized Tehran for its nuclear defiance but failed to issue the Islamic republic with an ultimatum to allow a probe of its allegedly secret work on atomic weapons.

The document, obtained by The Associated Press, is expected to be circulated and voted on tomorrow by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation board. The document had been eagerly awaited as a signal of how harshly Iran would be treated for ignoring both IAEA and U.N. Security Council demands that it stop activities that could be used to make nuclear arms and allow the agency to probe its alleged secret weapons work.

The lack of harsh criticism is being seen as a concession to Chinese and Russian desires.

The United States and its Western allies, Britain, France and Germany, had come to the meeting saying they wanted to issue a tough warning to the Islamic republic to either start cooperating or face renewed referral to the Security Council. But Russia and China were opposed to any harsh criticism or giving Iran any overt timeframe to act or face further punishment.

Israel’s ambassador expressed disappointment, having hoped that last week’s hard-hitting IAEA report on Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons drive would produce a strong response from the agency’s board of governors. “It could be tougher,” Israel’s envoy Ehud Azoulay told Agence France-Presse on the sidelines of the two-day Vienna meeting that began yesterday.

The text shared with AP reflected compromise on both sides. It expressed “serious concern that Iran continues to defy the requirements and obligations contained in the relevant IAEA Board of Governors and U.N. Security Council Resolutions.”

It also spoke of “deep and increasing concern about the unresolved issues regarding the Iranian nuclear program, including those which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions.”

“Serious concern” and “deep and increasing concern” are strong terms in the diplomatic world. At the same time, the text had no reference to Security Council referral if Tehran remained defiant, although two Western diplomats said that could still happen at the next IAEA meeting in March.

In his opening comments to the meeting, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano also repeated his concerns “regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.” The West had hoped that an unprecedented detailing of Iran’s alleged secret weapons work contained in a restricted Nov. 8 IAEA report could sway Moscow and Beijing. For the first time, the agency said Iran was suspected of clandestine work that is “specific to nuclear weapons.” Amano later said his agency found the information leading to such suspicions to be generally credible.

“The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” he said. “It also indicates that, prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured program, and that some activities may still be ongoing.”

Amano said he had written Iranian officials proposing that a high-level IAEA mission go to Tehran to try and kick-start his agency’s stalled probe. The IAEA chief said he was still waiting for a reply