The United States and the European Union have agreed not to seek an emergency meeting of the watchdog UN nuclear agency even if Iran fails to meet a September 3 UN deadline to suspend atomic fuel work that could be used to make nuclear weapons, diplomats said Thursday.
An emergency session of the International Atomic Energy Agency on September 6, which the United States was seeking and which could lead to the referral of Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, is "not going to take place," a senior EU diplomat told AFP in Vienna where the IAEA is based.
Russia, which has a large contract to build Iran's first nuclear reactor, had objected to holding such a special meeting ahead of a summit at United Nations headquarters in New York from September 14-16, a Western diplomat told AFP. The diplomats asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Iranian hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Russian President Vladimir Putin are to attend the summit and Russia "wanted to give room for what could happen in New York and not to miss an opportunity" for diplomacy, a the EU diplomat said.
The diplomat was speaking about efforts to get Iran to resume both the fuel suspension and talks with the EU that focus on winning guarantees that Tehran will not make nuclear weapons.
The Western diplomat said: "With the Russians dead set against it (the emergency meeting), it's not going to happen."
Diplomats said the IAEA would review Iran's compliance with the agency's request for it to stop nuclear fuel work at a regular quarterly meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors in Vienna on September 19, after the UN summit.
US spokesman in Vienna Matthew Boland refused to comment on the report.
The United States had been lobbying hard this week at IAEA headquarters for Iran to be referred quickly to the Security Council if it failed to meet the September 3 deadline, diplomats said.
The IAEA board, which is to receive a report on Iran on September 3 from agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, has called on Tehran to reinstate a suspension of nuclear fuel work. It resumed such work in early August after a hiatus since November 2004.
The suspension paved the way for talks that began last December in which the EU sought guarantees from Iran that it does not intend to make nuclear weapons, despite Washington's claims that the country plans to do just that.
The United States had been "concerned momentum would be lost" in keeping up pressure on Iran if there was no emergency meeting but had to give in, the European diplomat said.
Non-aligned nations on the IAEA board, who were briefed by the US delegation on Thursday, had objected to holding a board meeting so soon after the report was filed.
"They complained that they wouldn't even have time to read the report and to run it by their capitals," the European diplomat said.
But a non-aligned diplomat told AFP that "in a subtle sense the move puts greater pressure on Iran since they are being given more time and if they persist with their fuel work they will be showing themselves to be unreasonable."
Diplomats and analysts warned Thursday that taking Tehran to the Security Council for possible sanctions was not a magic solution.
A confrontation could lead Iran to pull out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the non-aligned diplomat said, saying this would be a "North Korea-type situation we want to avoid."
Diplomats also said Tehran is in a stronger position than when the crisis started two years ago as the United States is bogged down militarily in Iraq and the world needs its oil.
But the Western diplomat said referral to the Council was necessary since "the Council has a legal authority the IAEA does not" as it has an enforcement role.
Non-proliferation expert Gary Samore, at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies, said the UN body would move slowly, urging Iran to comply rather than immediately imposing sanctions.
Ahmadinejad said Wednesday that Iran wanted to continue negotiations with the EU but insisted on it rights to nuclear technology used in peaceful power generation.
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