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. Annan throws his weight behind UN atomic agency in nuclear standoff with Iran
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on Thursday backed a resolution by the UN nuclear watchdog agency calling on Iran to halt nuclear fuel work, a demand Tehran has dismissed as absurd.

"The (International Atomic Energy Agency) has spoken with one voice and the secretary general expects its resolution to be implemented," Annan said in a statement through his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

The resolution by the Vienna-based IAEA's 35-nation board of governors expressed "serious concern" at Tehran's decision to resume uranium conversion activities and set a September 3 date for a report on Iran's compliance which could lead to a new emergency IAEA meeting and possible referral to the UN Security Council for sanctions.

Uranium conversion produces a gas that is the feedstock for enriching uranium, which fuels nuclear reactors or is potentially the raw material for atom bombs.

The resolution came on the third day of talks at the IAEA and a day after Tehran had raised the stakes in the dispute by removing IAEA seals at a conversion facility in Isfahan, 400 kilometres (250 miles) south of Tehran.

Wednesday, Annan called on Iran and the so-called EU-3 -- Britain, France and Germany -- to continue their talks to break the impasse over Tehran's nuclear activities and avoid any action that might lead to further escalation.

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