U.N. Nuclear Agency Reports Iran to Security Council
Saturday, February 4, 2006; 4:00 PM
VIENNA, Feb. 4 -- The United Nations nuclear agency reported Iran to the U.N. Security Council on Saturday, signaling growing worldwide unease about the nature and intent of Iran's nuclear program, and concern that it might be military.
Iran responded Saturday by announcing that it would resume "commercial-scale uranium enrichment" and halt snap checks of its nuclear facilities by U.N. inspectors.
The 27-3 decision to report Iran to the highest U.N. body -- a diplomatic victory for the United States and Europe, and a blow to Iran's prestige -- came after months of intense wrangling among the 35 board members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the organization that monitors nuclear activities around the world.
In Washington, Undersecretary of State R. Nicholas Burns called the vote "a powerful message of condemnation" and a "clear rebuke" of Iran.
Russia and China, both of which have strong economic ties to Tehran, joined the United States and European countries in an increasingly unified campaign to step up pressure on Iran to stop its research into uranium enrichment and cooperate more fully with IAEA inspectors. Only Syria, Cuba and Venezuela voted against the measure. Five countries -- Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa -- abstained.
The referral to the Council signifies "a continuing lack of confidence in Iran's nuclear intentions," said British Ambassador Peter Jenkins. "Board members simply cannot understand why Iran is so determined to press on with its [uranium] enrichment program."
"A very important part of this board meeting is the fact that the European Union, the United States, Russia and China stood together in sending this message," said U.S. Ambassador Greg Schulte. "The authorities in Tehran, rather than threatening the world, should listen to the world and take the steps necessary to start regaining its confidence."
In forwarding the matter to the Security Council, the board's resolution cited "Iran's many failures and breaches of its obligations to comply" with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the "absence of confidence that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes resulting from the history of concealment." It demanded that Iran "reestablish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and processing activities, including research and development."
Under an agreement reached Monday between the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany, the council will not take any action on Iran for at least a month, giving Tehran a grace period to change its tactics, stop its enrichment activities and cooperate more fully with IAEA inspectors.
Javad Vaidi, deputy secretary of Iran's National Security Council, said the board's vote was "politically motivated" and "not based on any legal or technical grounds." He said Iran had no choice now but to resume uranium enrichment and stop voluntarily cooperating with international inspectors, under a law passed by Iran's parliament last year mandating such retaliation if Iran were reported to the U.N. Security Council.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad subsequently ordered Iran's Atomic Energy Organization to end snap inspections by IAEA officials starting Sunday.
"All of Iran's peaceful nuclear activities will continue within the framework of the IAEA and based on the NPT and the agency's safeguards," he said in a letter to the head of the Iranian organization, Reuters news agency reported. However, Ahmadinejad added, "from Feb. 5, Iran will suspend its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol and its other cooperation beyond it." He referred to an agreement Iran signed in 2003 to allow snap inspections of its nuclear facilities after admitting it had carried out secret work for 18 years.