US moves closer to Iran ultimatum

Iran has not complied with nuclear safeguards agreements and should be given a "last chance" to clear up all questions about its atomic programme, a senior US official has said.

    El Baradei report accepts Iran can generate nuclear energy

    "The United States believes the facts already established would fully justify an immediate finding of non-compliance by Iran with its safeguards violations," US Ambassador Ken Brill told a meeting in Vienna of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday.


    He said the US had "taken note, however, of the desire of other member-states to give Iran a last chance to stop its evasions, and have agreed today to join in the call on Iran to take 'essential and urgent' actions to demonstrate that it has done so."


    Positive report


    Meanwhile, Iran's atomic energy body described as "positive" a report by the IAEA on Iran’s nuclear programme, the state news agency IRNA reported in Tehran.


    Iranian atomic agency spokesman Saber Zaimian said a report by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei had asserted Iran's right to develop nuclear power, adding that efforts in Vienna by the US to place fresh pressure on Iran had failed.


    "The report by the director of the IAEA on the nuclear programme is positive, but it was expected that he recognises the right of Iran to cooperate with countries possessing nuclear weapons" in an attempt to develop civil nuclear power, he said.


    ElBaradei said Iran, which is an IAEA board member, should declare all its nuclear activities and also sign an additional protocol to the international nuclear Non-proliferation treaty (NPT) which would give UN nuclear inspectors the power to make unannounced checks of its atomic facilities.


    US isolated


    However efforts by the US to convince others that Iran is in violation of the NPT or impose a deadline for tougher inspections appear unlikely to fully succeed in the current IAEA board meeting underway in Vienna.


    Zaimian said this was a "failure" for arch-enemy Washington, which argues Iran is using a nuclear power project as cover for developing nuclear weapons.

    "The report by the director of the IAEA on the nuclear programme is positive"

    Saber Zaimian,
    spokesman, Iranian Atomic Agency

    Washington found itself isolated when it tried to push the IAEA board to report Iran to the UN Security Council for violating its NPT obligations.

    But many governors on the 35-nation board agreed to support a new resolution demanding Iran's urgent cooperation with the IAEA, once US officials dropped their Security Council plans.

    Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, told reporters that Tehran has no secret weapons programme and has been fully cooperating with the U.N. He said Tehran has even "gone beyond our obligations".

    "It is as though we have already provisionally applied the Additional Protocol," he said, referring to the NPT protocol that would allow the IAEA to carry out more intrusive, snap inspections.



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