Monday, November 21, 2005

EU, US Defer UN Action on Iran

EU powers and Washington have suspended their bid to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council so that Russia can pursue an initiative to ease a crisis over Tehran's suspected nuclear arms plans, diplomats said on Monday.

They said a meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog this week would shelve a resolution on referral in favor of a statement voicing concern about what diplomats said was a document received by Iran which contained partial nuclear bomb-making instructions.

"There will be no resolution for sure. The Russians and Chinese oppose this," a diplomat from the so-called EU3 -- France, Britain and Germany -- ahead of Thursday's session of the International Atomic Energy Agency's governing board. READ MORE

In September, the IAEA board passed a resolution declaring that Iran had violated the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by hiding potentially weapons-related atomic fuel activities from the IAEA for 18 years.

The resolution called for Iran's breaches to be reported to the Security Council, which has the power to impose economic sanctions, but did not say when the referral should take place.

Tehran denies Western allegations that it has a covert atomic weapons program and insists its nuclear ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.

Another reason for holding off on the Security Council referral, EU diplomats said, is to give Tehran more time to consider a Russian proposal that it be permitted to continue to do less-sensitive nuclear fuel work in Iran as long as the more advanced part of the process is carried out in Russia.