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. EU for action on Iran; Russia against
VIENNA (AFP) Sep 20, 2005
Europe's top three powers were Tuesday pushing for Iran to be reported to the UN Security Council with a draft resolution that blasts Tehran for "breaches" of international nuclear safeguards but which faces stiff opposition from Russia.

Britain, France and Germany were Tuesday distributing the text, "Iran: Elements for an IAEA Board Resolution" to members of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board of governors which is meeting in Vienna this week, according to a copy of the draft obtained by AFP.

The European trio and the United States are calling for Iran to be reported to the Security Council over potentially weapons-related nuclear fuel work and threaten to push for a vote if consensus at the 35-nation board can not be achieved, diplomats told AFP.

Iran's co-operation with an investigation by the IAEA has been "marked by extensive concealment, misleading information and delays in access to nuclear material and facilities," the draft said.

That behavior "has resulted in many breaches of its obligations to comply with its safeguards agreement," the draft said.

The draft asks the Security Council "as the organ bearing the main responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security" to call on Iran to "re-establish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activity."

Enriched uranium can be fuel for nuclear power reactors but also the raw material for atom bombs.

Referral to the Security Council is opposed by Russia, China and non-aligned states which support Iran's right to peaceful nuclear activities and fear that taking Iran to the top UN body, which could impose trade sanctions, could escalate the confrontation.

The draft resolution does not mention sanctions, however, as it calls on the Security Council to use its authority to get Iran to cooperate with the

The Security Council could use measures far short of sanctions, such as a statement urging Iranian compliance, to try to get Iran to stop nuclear fuel activities and to answer IAEA questions.

In Moscow, the head of the Russian atomic energy agency, Alexander Rumyantsev, told ITAR-TASS news agency: "Russia's position is that for the moment there is no reason to consider the issue of Iranian nuclear activities as very worrying."

Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power reactor.

A senior European diplomat said the European trio was "fed-up" after Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Saturday that Iran would not cease uranium conversion it had resumed in August.

The IAEA then called on Iran to cease the fuel work.

Conversion is the first step in making enriched uranium.

The IAEA has been investigating Iran since February 2003 on US charges that Tehran is using a peaceful civilian nuclear program to hide cover development of atomic weapons.

The emergence of the draft resolution ends weeks of speculation about how strongly the West would move to counter Iran after it resumed fuel work last month, claiming its nuclear program is peaceful and that it had the right to this technology under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The fuel work torpedoed talks with the three EU countries, known as the EU-3, which is aimed at obtaining guarantees from Iran that its nuclear program is peaceful.

A senior European official cautioned that while the Europeans were presenting a strong front, compromise was not "excluded."

"This is a very fluid situation," the diplomat said, adding that the resolution could be modified to set a deadline for Iran to halt the nuclear fuel work, with the issue to be decided at a later date, perhaps in a special IAEA board meeting in October.

In New York Saturday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had said there was still "time for diplomacy."

"The Iranians are convinced they are in a strong position" as the United States is bogged down militarily in Iraq and the Islamic Republic has clout as a crucial supplier to an already tight world oil market, a diplomat said.

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