Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Tweaked Iran Resolution Makes IAEA Rounds
VIENNA — Key European countries today circulated an updated draft resolution at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors meeting calling on Iran to reconsider its decisions to conduct test runs of uranium-hexafluoride production at its uranium conversion facility and to build a heavy-water nuclear reactor (see GSN, June 14).
The resolution is expected to be formally introduced tomorrow and to pass later this week without substantive changes, Western diplomats said.
Language on the two facilities in the new British-French-German draft was slightly less confrontational than in an earlier version, under which the board would have called on Iran not to reconsider but actually to stop the activities. The Nonaligned Movement countries, in keeping with past practice, had sought to soften the initial draft.
The board in another draft paragraph would still call on Iran to “correct all remaining shortcomings” related to its current suspension of uranium enrichment and reprocessing, “including by refraining from the production of” uranium hexafluoride.
The board began meeting yesterday in a session that will be capped by the latest in a series of resolutions condemning Iran for its failures to cooperate with IAEA inspectors, including by providing what the agency calls changing and contradictory information. The United States and other countries believe Iran is developing a nuclear bomb under cover of energy production.
The board’s discussions on Iran over the past year have been highly contentious, but diplomats here say this week’s talks are proceeding more smoothly. The agency has repeatedly found fault with Iran’s cooperation, but the board to date has limited itself to issuing resolutions criticizing the country, rather than referring the matter to the U.N. Security Council as sought by the United States.
“There’s a real need for a greater sense of urgency here,” U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Brill told reporters today.
Under the European draft, the board would set no deadlines for Iranian cooperation but would say that “with the passage of time, it is becoming ever more important” that Iran provide more information about its uranium-enrichment program.
By approving the new draft, which Global Security Newswire obtained today, the board would call “on Iran to reconsider its decisions to begin testing at the uranium conversion facility and to start construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water, as the reversal of those decisions would make it easier for Iran to rebuild international confidence undermined by past reports of undeclared nuclear activities in Iran.”
Iran first told the U.N. nuclear watchdog in April of its plan to conduct “hot tests” of the uranium-hexafluoride production line at the conversion facility, a move the agency said would amount to production of feed material for uranium enrichment processes that could be used in a weapon program. Tehran promised last year to suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing, but it told the agency in May that the decision does not apply to uranium-hexafluoride production.
Construction of a heavy-water reactor in Arak, according to an IAEA report submitted to the board last week, is scheduled to begin this month. Citing physical specifications and other details, agency inspectors repeatedly expressed doubts about Iran’s claim that the facility is meant for producing radioactive isotopes. The reactor could be useful, however, in a plutonium-based nuclear-weapon program.
Under the draft, the 35-member board would say it “deplores” Iran’s level of cooperation with the agency, call on Iran to “take all necessary steps on an urgent basis to help resolve all outstanding questions” and urge the country to ratify the Additional Protocol to its IAEA nuclear safeguards agreement. The protocol, which Iran has signed and has promised to observe in the interim period before ratification, allows for enhanced IAEA inspections.
Iranian leaders have reacted strongly to the continued pressure. President Mohammad Khatami reportedly told the United Kingdom, France and Germany in writing to ease the scrutiny or Iran might consider “other alternatives,” Agence France-Presse reported today.
One of those alternatives could be to refuse to ratify the Additional Protocol, Gholam Ali Hadad-Adel, conservative speaker to the Iranian parliament, said in Tehran.
“The three European countries are demanding parliament adopt the protocol, but I say to France, Germany and Britain not to tell the Iranian parliament what to do,” he said, AFP reported. “The Iranian parliament does not take orders from foreigners, because these orders do not reflect the interests of the Iranian people,” the speaker added.
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