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. Iran in hot seat at ElBaradei's last IAEA meeting
VIENNA, Nov 26 (AFP) Nov 26, 2009
Iran will be in the hot seat again as the UN atomic watchdog begins a two-day meeting Thursday, the last to be chaired by Egyptian diplomat Mohamed ElBaradei, who steps down on November 30 after 12 years at the helm of the IAEA.

But the 67-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner will be leaving a difficult legacy to his successor, 62-year-old Yukiya Amano of Japan, with the International Atomic Energy Agency no closer to knowing the true nature and extent of Iran's controversial nuclear programme, despite seven years of intensive investigation.

Indeed, the shock revelation in September that Tehran has been concealing a second uranium enrichment site could see the IAEA's 35-member board of governors vote on a resolution condemning Iran for the first time in nearly four years.

Diplomats at the agency have said that the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany have drawn up a draft resolution to put to the two-day meeting.

It was not clear from pre-meeting talks whether the text will actually win the support of the majority of board members, so the so-called P5+1 may finally decide to issue it merely as a statement rather than put it to the vote, one diplomat said.

But German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said here Wednesday that Germany sees "broad support" for the resolution.

"As you know, or perhaps have heard, we have prepared a resolution once again which will be tabled by Germany," Westerwelle told journalists after meeting with ElBaradei.

"We and our partners are currently in consultations on the wording and we're hoping for broad support at the board of governors meeting which begins tomorrow (Thursday)," he said.

The fact that Russia and China are ready to support such a move is seen as a sign of the growing frustration over Iran's stubborn refusal to come clean about its atomic ambitions.

That sense of frustration has been heightened by Tehran's reluctance to sign up to a deal -- brokered by ElBaradei personally -- that would see Russia and France supply the much-needed nuclear fuel for an Iranian research reactor in return for key confidence-building gestures by the Islamic republic.

ElBaradei has stuck his neck out in an effort to bring the deal to fruition, seeing it as a "unique and fleeting opportunity" for helping resolve the long-running standoff between Iran and the international community.

Western countries insist there is no room for further negotiation and that Iran must say either "yes" or "no" to the deal as it was drawn up by ElBaradei in October.

Other matters on the meeting's agenda include Syria, North Korea and a fuel bank proposal by Russia.

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