Iran in non-compliance on nuclear program: US official
VIENNA (AFP) Sep 09, 2003
The United States Tuesday accused Iran of being in breach of nuclear safeguards agreements but supported a proposed "last chance" for Tehran to clear up questions about its atomic program by October 31, at a meeting in Vienna of the UN nuclear watchdog.

France, Germany and Britain jointly Tuesday called on Iran to fully disclose its contested nuclear program by the end of October, according to a draft resolution submitted to a board of governors' meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The draft came after Ken Brill, the US ambassador to the IAEA, had said: "The United States believes the facts already established would fully justify an immediate finding of non-compliance by Iran" with international non-proliferation accords.

Washington claims Tehran is hiding a program to develop atomic weapons. US President George W. Bush has identified Iran as part of an "axis of evil" of countries trying to develop weapons of mass destruction that included then Saddam-ruled Iraq and North Korea.

Brill said the United States would not however seek a non-compliance finding from the IAEA -- a move that could take the issue to the UN Security Council -- since it had "taken note of the desire of other member states to give Iran a last chance to stop its evasions."

He said the United States had "agreed ... to join in the call on Iran to take 'essential and urgent' actions to demonstrate" that it is ready to provide necessary information about its nuclear program.

Brill said the United States was in fact a co-sponsor of the resolution. A Japanese diplomat said Japan was also a co-sponsor.

A Turkish diplomat said his country, which had been holding out, now supported the resolution.

A Western diplomat said the draft was in fact a US-written resolution and already had majority support from the 35-nation IAEA board.

He said "serious discussions" would continue on the proposal Tuesday evening and that he expected it to be adopted later in the week, despite other, less strong, resolutions being put forward by South Africa, and possibly Russia.

The draft resolution said Iran should "remedy all failures identified by the Agency" in complying with nuclear non-proliferation safeguards.

These include "providing a full declaration of the sources and types of all imported material and components relevant to the enrichment program, especially imported equipment and components stated to have been contaminated with high enriched uranium particles," which could be weapons-grade, the resolution said.

It said third countries, which could refer to Pakistan, should "cooperate closely and fully" in determining who supplied Iran with the contaminated uranium.

The resolution said Iran should also allow IAEA inspectors free access for "environmental sampling" at suspicious sites and resolve questions about gas centrifuges which could be used in enriching uranium.

Iran should also sign an additional protocol to allow IAEA inspectors to make unannounced inspections, the resolution said.

But Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, struck a threatening note by hinting at a withdrawal from the talks.

"We would be obliged to stop all cooperation with the agency (IAEA) if the negotiations (in Vienna) are blocked," Salehi told Al-Jazeera television, according to a text of the interview made available to AFP.

In Sofia, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said, in a clear reference to the United States, that he hoped the IAEA would not yield to "political pressure" and create problems for Iran in cooperating with the agency.

"We expect to continue talks in order to sign the additional protocol," Kharazi said.

He said Iran has already "basically met the requirements of the additional protocol" by opening itself up to inspections.

Tehran insists that it has fully cooperated with the IAEA and denies it is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The debate at the Vienna meeting over the Iran resolution has proved difficult, in the face of opposition to taking a hard line on Iran from non-aligned countries and Russia, a Western diplomat said.