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Russia And China To Vote Against Iran At Nuclear Body

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by Staff Writers
Vienna (AFP) Feb 02, 2006
Russia and China have promised Western states to back a resolution by the UN nuclear watchdog to report Iran to the Security Council over nuclear activities, which Washington says hide weapons work, diplomats told AFP Thursday.

The board of the International Atomic Energy (IAEA) was to meet Thursday in Vienna in an emergency session to discuss the resolution.

"Russia and China have said they are going to vote for the resolution," a Western diplomat said, adding that if Russia went back on its promise "it would cause a problem in bilateral relations with the United States."

A European diplomat said negotiations among the five permanent United Nations Security Council nations on a resolution had been "very constructive."

"No one tried to chip away for his own position," the diplomat said.

The diplomat said there is now wide support at the 35-nation IAEA board of governors for the resolution on Iran, with even non-aligned countries supporting the draft.

Russia and China made clear to non-aligned states at a meeting in Vienna Wednesday that they stood strongly behind the resolution, diplomats said, adding that the non-aligneds, which back Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, were surprised by the position of the two major Iranian allies and trade partners.

The United States has sought for two years to win support for taking Iran to the Council, which unlike the IAEA has enforcement powers and can impose sanctions.

The Vienna-based IAEA has been investigating Iran for three years and has said the Islamic Republic hid sensitive nuclear activities for 18 years before the inquest began.

But a diplomat close to the IAEA warned that referral could provoke Iran to push ahead with a program it insists is peaceful and reduce cooperation with the atomic agency.

US President George W. Bush said Wednesday that he backs a Russian plan to have Iran enrich uranium in Russia in order to avoid Tehran mastering this crucial technology, which makes fuel for nuclear power reactors but also bomb material.

Iran has threatened to retaliate if it is hauled before the Security Council, by kick-starting sensitive fuel cycle work and blocking international inspections.

The European diplomat said that even a non-aligned state like South Africa, a critic of taking the issue to the Security Council, may support the resolution.

The main hold-out against it is US critic Venezuela, but diplomats said IAEA board members were now working to get the resolution adopted by consensus.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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