The 35-nation governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday adopted a resolution expressing "serious concern" over Iran's continued defiance of the international community's demands for halting its disputed nuclear program.
The resolution, tabled by the United States, China, Russia, Germany, France and the UK, was adopted by 31 votes to 1 at a closed-door meeting of the governing board held at its Vienna headquarters.
While Cuba voted against the measure, Egypt, Ecuador and Tunisia abstained from the voting. Notably, all the four nations are members of the Non-Aligned Movement, of which Iran is currently the rotating president.
The resolution expressed "serious concern that Iran continues to defy" previous U.N. Security Council (UNSC) resolutions calling on Tehran to suspend its controversial uranium enrichment.
Further, it urged the Islamic Republic to fully comply with all of its obligations under the relevant UNSC resolutions "without delay." The UNSC has already passed six resolutions on Iran, four with sanctions attached, over the nuclear stand-off.
The latest IAEA resolution also called on Tehran to provide U.N. nuclear inspectors access to specific areas within the Parchin military complex, where the agency suspects Iran conducted tests related to nuclear weapons a decade ago.
Although Iran insists its nuclear work is intended for peaceful civilian purposes, the West suspects the claim to be a cover-up for the country's nuclear weapon ambitions. Nevertheless, Tehran argues that it has the right to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes as it is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the IAEA.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog had claimed in its quarterly report released last month that the number of enrichment centrifuges at Iran's Fordo facility, which buried deep inside a mountain near the city of Qom to protect it against any possible enemy strikes, has more than doubled to 2,140 from 1,064 since May.
Iran swears that the Fordo facility is being used for enriching uranium to a maximum of 20 percent purity for civilian purposes. Tehran has also rejected claims made by U.N. inspectors that they had found traces of of uranium enriched to 27 percent at the site in May, insisting that those readings could be accidental. Incidentally, uranium enriched to a purity of 27 percent or more could be used for making nuclear weapons.
The IAEA quarterly report also accused Iran of conducting "extensive activities" at its Parchin military site to "sanitize" the area of incriminating trace elements, and noted that those activities would "significantly hamper the agency's ability to conduct effective verification" if its inspectors were granted access to the facility. Notably, Iran has so far refused IAEA inspectors access to the Parchin site, which the West believes was used for explosives testing related to setting off a nuclear weapon.
The latest development comes at a time when Iran is reeling under the sanctions imposed by the UNSC over Tehran's nuclear defiance. Analysts believe that Russia and China, both Iranian allies, are unlikely to support further U.N. sanctions against Tehran over the issue.
However, the United States and its allies have imposed separate sanctions on the country, targeting its oil and banking sectors, after an IAEA report cautioned that Tehran may be planning to develop nuclear weapons.
Incidentally, the so-called P5+1 group of nations, comprising the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, have already held three rounds of unsuccessful negotiations with Iran this year as part of their attempts to persuade Iran to roll back on its disputed nuke program.
The P5+1 group wants Iran to halt enriching uranium to 20 percent level, shut down the Fordo facility, ship out stockpiled 20 percent enriched nuclear materials and allow U.N. nuclear inspectors to verify the so-claimed peaceful intentions of Iran's disputed nuclear activity. In return, they are offering to supply Iran with medical isotopes and provide co-operation on nuclear safety.
The negotiations are still continuing. It is widely believed that Iran's continued participation in the talks is for convincing the P5+1 nations to lift their individual as well as UN sanctions currently imposed on Tehran. Experts say the Western sanctions are beginning to take an adverse effect on Iran's oil-based economy.
by RTT Staff Writer
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