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U.N. Nuclear Agency Reports Iran to Security Council
Vaidi told Iranian state television that the IAEA vote effectively killed a proposal for resolving the dispute by having Russia carry out uranium enrichment on Iran's behalf, and he said Iran would resume enrichment activities at its Natanz plant in Isfahan province.
"Commercial-scale uranium enrichment will be resumed in Natanz in accordance with the law passed by the parliament," Vaidi said, according to the Associated Press.
Burns, the U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, told reporters in a conference call Saturday that the Iranian government faces tough decisions in the coming month.
"I cannot say we are filled with hope the Iranians will do the right thing," he said.
Burns said that under an agreement reached in London this week with other permanent members of the Security Council, the United States will not press to bring up the Iranian issue this month, when the United States chairs the council. But he said five demands made of Iran in today's resolution -- including suspending enrichment activities and granting inspectors enhanced access to its facilities -- were the minimum needed to avoid a Security Council debate in March.
"Iran is going to have to meet those conditions and show it has taken a fundamentally different course," Burns said. "We are going to have to see a change of heart by Iran."
Noting Iran's threats to stop cooperating, British Ambassador Jenkins said, "We urge Iran to reconsider." In the month ahead, "we hope Iran will take this opportunity to begin rebuilding international confidence," he said.
The United States and Europe say Iran's ultimate aim is to build nuclear weapons; Iran says it is interested only in developing peaceful nuclear energy, framing the issue as a sovereign right.
Ali Larijani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council and its chief nuclear negotiator, recently said that the country's decision in January to resume uranium enrichment activities after a voluntary, two-year suspension was "non-negotiable." It was that decision that triggered this week's IAEA's board meeting.
Going beyond the legislation to stop snap IAEA inspections of its nuclear facilities, some Iranian officials have threatened to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty or raise oil prices if the IAEA forwarded their case to New York. Political analysts also warn of Iran's ability to foment problems in neighboring Iraq.
It is unclear what action, if any, the Security Council might take. Both Russia and China were reluctant to report Iran to the body and have expressed strong opposition to any significant punitive measures. China's ambassador to the United Nations told the Associated Press on Friday that his country would never support sanctions against Iran as a "matter of principle."
U.S. and European diplomats have said that they envision a "graduated" diplomatic approach to slowly build pressure on Iran, and that sanctions currently are not being considered. Nonetheless, Iran reportedly has been withdrawing money from European banks and stockpiling critical materials that could be difficult to get if an embargo or sanctions were imposed.