Europe's 'Big Three' submit resolution on Iran nuclear program
VIENNA (AFP) Jun 17, 2004
Britain, France, and Germany submitted a resolution at the UN atomic agency Thursday calling for a 15-month-old investigation into Iran's nuclear activities to be stepped up and for Tehran to do more to help it complete the probe within a few months, agency officials said.

Iran, which is bitterly against the resolution, immediately said however it would continue to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency and hailed as a victory that the IAEA had not heeded a US call to impose a deadline on Iran.

The United States claims Iran has a secret program to develop nuclear weapons and wants the IAEA to impose a cut-off date on its investigation in order to send the Iranian file to the UN Security Council, which could impose international sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

"The Americans were trying to put a deadline. In this draft we don't see a deadline. I consider this process a victory process for Iran," Iranian delegation chief Seyed Hossein Mussavian told reporters.

The resolution followed four days of intense negotiations among Western countries, non-aligned states and Iran at the Vienna-based IAEA.

It came against a backdrop of an increasingly acerbic war of words between Tehran, which insists its nuclear activities are solely for peaceful purposes, and IAEA members including the United States and Europe's so-called Big Three.

The IAEA admitted earlier Thursday it had made a mistake in saying that Iran had failed to report the import of magnets for advanced P-2 centrifuges that can process uranium to bomb-grade, highly enriched levels.

References to this were taken out of the resolution, according to a copy of the text obtained by AFP.

But the resolution still says that Iran's reporting on the crucial P-2 centrifuge issue has "in some cases ... been incomplete and continues to lack the necessary clarity."

It says that on the other key problem, that of contamination of equipment in Iran by highly enriched uranium (HEU), the information provided to date... has not been adequate to resolve this complex matter."

Iran claims the contamination is from equipment imported from an international black market rather than from Iranian enrichment activities.

The resolution repeats a call by IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei "that it is essential for the integrity and credibility of the inspection process to bring these issues to a close within the next few months."

And it "deplores... that overall as indicated by the Director General's written and oral reports, Iran's cooperation has not been as full, timely and proactive as it should have been."

It "regrets" that Iran has not "comprehensively implemented" Iran's "commitments...to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities."

The resolution also kept in the clause Iran most objected to -- a call for it to stop tests in uranium conversion, a first step in the nuclear fuel cycle.

But it called for this as "an additional confidence-building measure," as Iran claims it is not obligated to do this under previous agreements to stop enrichment-related activities.

Mussavian told reporters he had not examined the resolution as tabled, but based on versions he had already seen, "Iran would continue cooperation with

He said: "Iran would be committed to (the nuclear) non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and there is no issue of withdrawal from the NPT."

"We would concentrate (focus) with the IAEA to resolve these two technical remaining issues which are P-2 and contamination," he said.

"We hope this will be also resolved within a few months," Mussavian said.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami had warned Wednesday that if the agency adopted a tough resolution the Islamic republic could back away from key commitments such as the suspension of uranium enrichment and allowing tougher inspections.

But Mussavian said Iran "would continue to cooperate with the IAEA also in the framework of the protocol 93 + 2," which is the additional protocol to the NPT that mandates tougher inspections.

"I believe this has been a victory for Iran to remove major concerns of the international community about its nuclear programm.

"That's why I don't see any reason that we should not continue to cooperate with IAEA to resolve these two remaining issues," Mussavian said.