Western powers such as the US and France, who drew up sanctions against Iran, originally demanded more sweeping reductions.

 

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) bloc of developing nations, to which Iran belongs, had opposed cuts.

 

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They feared a precedent would be set jeopardising their own access to IAEA aid for nuclear energy seen as key to modernising their economies.

   

They also noted there is no hard evidence Iran is abusing IAEA resources for military ends, although doubts abound.

   

Only two states in the IAEA's 50-year history have been stripped of nuclear aid due to concern about possible diversions into bomb-making, North Korea and Iraq.

        

Ahead of the widely expected decision, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, the Iranian envoy, condemned it and blamed the UN Security Council, saying it had illegally undermined the IAEA's professional independence.

   

Soltanieh said none of the projects had anything to do with nuclear fuel production and this would continue no matter what.

        

Western powers suspect a hidden agenda to build nuclear arms and four years of IAEA investigations often stonewalled by Iran have failed to verify Iran's intentions are entirely peaceful.