Ultimatum to Iran on N-programme

Washington and at least 20 other nations pushed the UN nuclear watchdog’s governing board to pass a resolution on Thursday giving Tehran time until 31 October to prove it has no secret nuclear weapons programme.

    IAEA chief Muhammad al-Baradei apparently backed draft resolution

    Japan, Turkey, Britain, France and Germany joined the United States in supporting a draft ordering Iran to show compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or face possible sanctions.

    Washington accuses Tehran of violating the treaty by secretly developing atomic weapons. Iran denies the charges, saying its nuclear programme is solely for the generation of electricity.

    The tough-worded draft resolution is expected to be voted on at Thursday’s closed-door meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) 35-nation Board of Governors.

    It also called on Iran to “suspend all further uranium enrichment activities”.

    Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, said France and Germany’s decision to co-sponsor the resolution was an attempt to mend fences with Washington after staunchly opposing the US war against Iraq.

    “They are now taking Iran as a scapegoat to bring themselves together,” he said, rejecting the idea of a deadline.

    Tensions 

    Iranian FM Kamal Kharazi (R)
    issues stark warning

    Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi warned the UN body’s governing board against coming down too hard on the Islamic republic.

    “If the hawks gain the ground and ignore our legitimate rights for peaceful nuclear activities, we will be forced to review the state of play and the current level of cooperation with the agency,” he told the IRNA news agency in Tehran.

    IAEA chief Muhammad al-Baradei also appeared to support the draft resolution when he spoke to the board behind closed doors, according to a diplomat who attended the meeting.

    If the IAEA board decided the agency was unable to verify “non-diversion” of nuclear resources to a weapons programme, it would have to report Iran to the UN Security Council for possible economic and diplomatic sanctions.

    Russia and China were expected to abstain from the vote, said a Western diplomat.

    The deadline was probably not open to negotiation, said diplomats, adding the draft may undergo some changes before being put to a vote.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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