Sunday, July 31, 2005

UN atomic agency would need three days to call Iran emergency session

Michael Adler, AFP, Iran Focus: an MEK Website.
At least three days would be needed to convene an emergency meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog agency if the crisis over Iran's nuclear program were to escalate, an agency spokesman said Sunday.

It would take "at least 72 hours" to convene a session in Vienna of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors, which could then send the Iranian dossier to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions against Tehran, said the spokesman, who asked not to be named.

Britain warned Iran Sunday against taking the "damaging step" of resuming nuclear fuel work and said that if the Iranians persist, the EU "will as a first step consult urgently with our partners on the board of the IAEA, which is monitoring Iran's nuclear" activities.

"There is a 72-hour official delay for circulation of the agenda (of an IAEA emergency meeting) and also there is the practical issue of giving the states time to get representatives to Vienna to participate," especially during summer vacations, the IAEA spokesman said. READ MORE

The IAEA has been investigating Iran's nuclear program since February 2003 on US charges that the Islamic republic is secretly developing nuclear weapons.

The United States wants Iran brought before the Security Council but is backing a European Union diplomatic effort to get Iran to guarantee it will not make nuclear weapons.

On Sunday, Iran seemed ready to push forward with its nuclear program.

A source in Tehran said after a meeting of Iran's top security body that Iran would inform the IAEA on Monday that it is resuming sensitive uranium conversion activities, which will then restart immediately.

Iran will "on Monday give the IAEA the letter announcing the resumption" of uranium conversion activities at the Isfahan plant, said the source, who asked not to be named.

"The restart will begin immediately," added the source, who was speaking after a meeting of Iran's supreme national security council.

Iranian officials had warned earlier Sunday that Tehran would resume sensitive nuclear work within days if the EU failed to submit proposals for trade, security and technology benefits to be given to Iran in return for guarantees it will not develop nuclear weapons.

The Iranian warning has dramatically raised the stakes in a more than two-year standoff over its nuclear program and risks seeing the Islamic Republic hauled before the Security Council, which could impose punishing economic sanctions.

The IAEA currently has inspectors in Iran, although not necessarily at the uranium conversion site in Isfahan where the Iranians plan on resuming work related to uranium enrichment, a diplomat in Vienna said.

Enrichment is the process that makes fuel for civilian nuclear power plants, but this material can also be the explosive core of nuclear bombs.