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. How Iran could be taken to the UN Security council over its nuclear program
VIENNA (AFP) Aug 02, 2005
If Iran's confrontation with the West over alleged nuclear-arms-related work escalates, the road to the UN Security Council and possible international sanctions would pass through the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

The foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany issued a joint warning to Iran Tuesday, telling Tehran that "we would have no option but to pursue other courses of action," a clear reference to the Security Council, if the Islamic Republic resumed nuclear activities in breach of a deal struck with the European Union.

The ministers said they would "be seeking a special session of the IAEA board of governors in the next few days to discuss the way ahead."

The IAEA is a United Nations organization that verifies compliance with safeguards mandated by the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of which Iran is a member.

The IAEA's 35-nation board of governors, which meets every three months, regularly reviews compliance with safeguards and can call on the UN Security Council to take action against countries that do not comply.

The Security Council can adopt punishing economic sanctions if necessary.

The IAEA board was not due to meet until September but can be called into emergency session on the demand of any one of its members, agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.

Once the demand for a special session arrives, at least three days would be needed to convene the meeting since "we require 72 hours to call in the resources and to set things up" at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Fleming said.

She said referring a nation to the Security Council was "the ultimate sanction for the IAEA," which itself has no enforcement powers.

In 2003, the IAEA referred North Korea to the Security Council after the Asian country had kicked out agency inspectors and withdrew from the NPT.

The Council did not impose punitive measures, despite the severity of the case.

The IAEA has also referred countries to the Security Council merely for information purposes, such as Libya in 2004, after Tripoli had owned up to its non-compliance and agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and provide full cooperation with the atomic agency.

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