|Soltanieh has said Iran will not halt uranium enrichment even for 'a second' [Reuters]
The board of the UN's atomic watchdog has passed a resolution expressing "deep and increasing concern" over Iran nuclear activities, following the Vienna-based body's recent highly critical report of the country's atomic programme.
However, the text of the resolution, proposed by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, Germany and 12 others, stopped short of reporting Iran to the UN Security Council or setting Tehran a deadline to comply.
Friday's resolution said it was "essential for Iran and the agency to intensify their dialogue" and called on the country "to comply fully and without delay with its obligations under relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council".
Iran responded by saying it would press on with its programme, and will boycott a forum of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) next week on creating a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.
The developments came as Iran's mission in the Austrian capital released a November 16 letter to Yukiya Amano, criticising the IAEA head.
The letter said Amano's "leaking" of names of Iranian scientists made them "targets for assassination" by "terrorist" groups and the US and Israeli secret services.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's IAEA envoy, said the resolution will only strengthen Tehran's determination to press on with its disputed activities.
"The only immediate effect is a further strengthening of determination of the Iranian nation to continue its nuclear activities for peaceful purposes without any compromise," Soltanieh said, adding that Iran will not attend IAEA-hosted talks next week on efforts to free the world of atomic weapons.
The resolution comes amid growning reports that the US is planning sanctions against Iran’s petrochemical industry.
Sources told the Reuters news agency the US was looking for ways to bar foreign companies from aiding Iran's petrochemical industry with the threat of depriving them access to the US market.
A total of 32 countries on the 35-nation IAEA board of governors voted in favour the resolution, with Indonesia abstaining and Cuba and Ecuador voting against, diplomats said.
To assuage Chinese and Russian misgivings, the resolution had no timeframe for Iran to comply, calling instead for Amano to report to the board in March on Tehran's "implementation of this resolution".
Amano said on Thursday he had written to Iran on November 2 proposing a "high-level" visit to Tehran, saying "clarifying all outstanding issues was in the interests of Iran, and other countries".
"It is clear that Iran has a case to answer," he said.
Last week, the IAEA came the closest yet to accusing Iran outright of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, in a report immediately rejected by the Islamic republic as "baseless".
Glyn Davies, the US envoy to the IAEA, told the board on Friday that the "watershed report ... leaves little doubt that Iran, at the very least, wants to position itself for a nuclear weapons capacity".
Britain, France and Germany said in a joint statement they were "gravely concerned" by the report, saying it "paints a very disturbing picture ... The international community cannot simply return to business as usual".
But Iran's Soltanieh said the report was "unprofessional, unbalanced, illegal and politicised" that has "deeply ruined the worldwide reputation of the Agency as a technical competent authority".
Soltanieh said the Islamic state would not halt uranium enrichment even for "a second", making clear his country would not back down in the dispute with major powers.
Separately, Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian foreign minister, said on Wednesday that Tehran would send "an analytical letter with logical and rational responses" to the IAEA.