Thursday, September 22, 2005

EU Drops Demand for UN Council Report of Iran

Louis Charbonneau, Reuters:
The European Union's three main powers have dropped a demand that the U.N. nuclear watchdog report Iran to the Security Council over its atomic plans due to opposition from Russia and China, diplomats said on Thursday.

Moscow and Beijing have warned the United States, France, Britain and Germany against stepping up the nuclear standoff with Iran, potentially blocking their drive to haul Tehran before the U.N.'s highest body for possible sanctions. READ MORE

Earlier this week, the EU had circulated a U.S.-backed draft resolution calling on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) governing board to report Iran's secretive nuclear program to the Security Council.

But with at least a dozen of the 35 members of the IAEA board opposed to the EU draft -- including China and Russia -- the EU has omitted the key demand from a revised draft.

Several diplomats from the European Union's "big three" -- France, Britain and Germany -- told Reuters they had dropped the demand in the interest of getting a unanimous resolution approved by the IAEA board, which meets this week.

Iran's official IRNA news agency confirmed the report, citing Germany's ambassador to the IAEA, Herbert Honsowitz, as saying: "The EU has withdrawn its request to send Iran's case to the Security Council."

Western countries suspect Tehran is developing atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program. Iran insists its program is peaceful and intended to meet its energy requirements.

The main point of the new draft, diplomats said, was for the IAEA board to pass a resolution this week declaring Iran in "non-compliance" with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but not explicitly calling for a Security Council report.

Technically, the IAEA board is required to report NPT non-compliance to the Security Council, but EU diplomats said it was possible to delay this indefinitely.

(Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Tehran)