Europe's big three easy on Iran in draft resolution: diplomats
VIENNA (AFP) Nov 17, 2003
A keenly awaited top-secret, draft resolution on Iran from Britain, France and Germany avoids citing Iran for non-compliance with international nuclear safeguards despite almost two decades of hidden suspicious activities, diplomats told AFP Monday.

"It's very weak. It does not use the word non-compliance and it does not in any way refer to (bringing the matter before) the UN Security Council," a diplomat said about the text being prepared for a meeting of the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna Thursday.

The watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is to decide whether to judge Iran in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) after 18 years of covert nuclear activities and bring it before the Security Council.

The Council could then impose punishing sanctions.

The text released Monday at the IAEA and parts of which diplomats read to AFP speaks only of "failures to meet safeguards obligations," said diplomats who work for IAEA national delegations and asked not to be identified.

It "calls on Iran to give full cooperation to the agency in implementing Iran's declared new policy of full disclosure," they said.

The United States says that Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons and should be brought before the Security Council but Britain, France and Germany think Iran should not face UN sanctions but be encouraged to cooperate.

A diplomat said "the resolution's proponents would probably argue that it was balanced" but he said it was "a step backwards" for the IAEA, which in September had imposed an October 31 deadline on Iran for full disclosure of its nuclear program.

The diplomat said the draft was clearly a working document, with much discussion and possibly revision expected to take place before the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors meets on Thursday.

But he said "it's a text that doesn't formally recognize 18 years of lying."

Another diplomat said: "This can only appease the countries which don't have a real and clear commitment with the non-proliferation regime."

Spokesmen for Britain, France and Germany were not immediately available for comment.