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IAEA Board Approves Resolution Knocking Iran
The International Atomic Energy Agency governing board on Thursday approved a resolution that admonishes Iran over its atomic activities, Reuters reported.
Thirty-one board members voted in favor of the measure. Cuba voted in opposition while Egypt and two other nations did not join the polling.
The resolution cites "serious concern" regarding Iranian atomic activities while also highlighting nations' hope to avoid military conflict in the matter. It notes that Tehran has ignored calls by the U.N. Security Council to halt uranium enrichment, which can be used to produce nuclear reactor fuel as well as weapons material.
Earlier reports indicated the governing board measure -- submitted on Wednesday by China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- says "it is essential for Iran to immediately implement" an arrangement for addressing the U.N. nuclear watchdog's questions over possible Iranian weapon-related experimentation. No such plan has emerged from multiple rounds of discussions this year between IAEA officials and Tehran, which insists its nuclear ambitions are strictly peaceful.
A primary concern for the Vienna, Austria-based agency has been getting access to Iran's Parchin armed forces installation, which is suspected of having housed nuclear weapon-relevant experiments. There have been recent indications that Iran is seeking to eliminate any evidence of such work at the site.
"Iran has been taking measures that appear consistent with an effort to remove evidence of its past activities at Parchin," Reuters quoted U.S. envoy Robert Wood as saying to the board on Thursday.
It is "troubling that Iran is blatantly hampering the (IAEA's) ability to carry out its mandate by systematically demolishing the facility that has been identified by the IAEA as meriting inspection at the Parchin site," Wood added.
Meanwhile, new remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggest Washington could face further calls from the leader to adopt a harder line against Iran, the Associated Press reported. Netanyahu this week said major governments cannot force Israel not to launch its own offensive against Iran if they do not identify specific triggers for action. His statement was seen as a pointed critique of the Obama administration.
"Obviously I have my views and am not exactly shy about expressing them when I think that Israel's vital security concerns are involved," the prime minister said to the Jerusalem Post in remarks published on Thursday. "This is my responsibility as the prime minister of the Jewish state. We are facing the greatest security challenge of any country on the face of the Earth, and when I feel I need to speak out, I do."
“As prime minister of Israel, it is my duty to uphold the vital interests of the state of Israel, to ensure its security and its future,” the New York Times quoted him as saying in a separate statement. “I uphold these interests, not that it’s easy, because leadership is tested in upholding them even if there are disagreements with friends, even the best of friends.”
The sharp, high-profile nature U.S.-Israeli deliberations on Iran strategy has prompted statements of concern by Netanyahu's detractors as well as his supporters, according to the Times.
“Prime Minister, who do you think is Israel’s greatest enemy? The United States or Iran?” Kadima Party leader Shaul Mofaz said in Israel's legislative chamber. “Who do you fear more, Mr. Netanyahu -- Ahmadinejad or President Obama?”
French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday pressed Netanyahu by telephone to seek a nonmilitary resolution to the atomic standoff with Tehran, Agence France-Presse reported. British Secret Intelligence Service head John Sawers separately discouraged the prime minister from employing armed force during an undisclosed trip to Israel roughly half a month ago, according to a Monday report by the London Daily Mail.
The resulting backlash by Tehran could spread violence across the region, according to the assessment by developed and backed by over 30 retired U.S. envoys and armed forces officers.
"You can't kill intellectual power," according to former Army Lt. Gen. Frank Kearney, who supported the findings.
Still, no portion of the assessment suggests force would be unwarranted under any circumstance, the Wall Street Journal reported. Decisive Iranian steps toward construction of a nuclear bomb might demand armed action, said former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering, one of the document's endorsers.
Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) on Wednesday pressed the Obama administration to demand further curbs in Iranian petroleum imports by countries granted half-year sanctions exemptions for making prior cuts.
Iran has tapped the Malaysian port of Labuan as a transfer point for its petroleum shipments in an effort to skirt penalties, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
Washington is one of more than 30 governments set on Sunday to launch a 12-day armed forces drill in the Persian Gulf and neighboring waters, AP reported. The maneuvers focusing on the elimination of water-based explosives are likely to be interpreted internationally as an implicit signal to Iran, the news agency said.
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