IAEA passes resolution criticizing Iran
Published Thursday, September 13, 2012
The UN atomic agency's board approved with a crushing majority Thursday a resolution criticizing Iran brought by world powers that was also aimed at dissuading Israel from military action.
The resolution expresses "serious concern that Iran continues to defy" UN Security Council resolutions for it to suspend uranium enrichment, a process which can be used for peaceful purposes but also in a nuclear weapon.
It also highlights the International Atomic Energy Agency's complaint that activities at the Parchin base near Tehran, where it suspects nuclear weapons research took place, would "significantly hamper" inspectors -- should Iran let them visit.
The resolution was introduced at the meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors on Wednesday after days of haggling between Western nations and Russia and China, which are seen as more lenient on Tehran.
It was approved by 31 countries, with Cuba voting against and Egypt, Ecuador and Tunisia abstaining, all four of them members of the Non-Aligned Movement of which Iran is currently the rotating president.
Another NAM member, South Africa, had introduced an amendment on a minor change of wording that however resulted in several hours' delay.
Iran insists its expanding atomic program is for peaceful purposes, but since the IAEA says repeatedly that it is unable to vouch for this, the UN Security Council has passed six resolutions against Tehran, four with sanctions attached.
The United States and the European Union have also imposed additional unilateral sanctions that have hit Iran's vital oil exports hard, and EU foreign ministers said last weekend they are considering additional measures.
"Iran wishes to be treated like a regular member of the IAEA and enjoy the benefits of peaceful uses of nuclear energy," US envoy to the IAEA Robert Wood told the closed-door gathering, according to a text of his remarks.
"Yet unlike the vast majority of its members, it utterly refuses to act like a responsible member by not complying with the agreements and obligations which it freely accepted and which condition its 'nuclear rights'."
He accused Iran of "systematically demolishing the facility that has been identified by the IAEA as meriting inspection at the Parchin site".
The IAEA resolution, the 12th in nine years, stops short of a referral of Iran to the Security Council.
But it was significant that Western nations were able to get Moscow and Beijing on board, and at a time of heightened speculation that Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, might bomb Iran, analysts say.
The resolution "reflects the desire of member states to underscore that diplomacy is paramount and it warns Israel in two separate paragraphs that the diplomatic process should be supported," Mark Hibbs from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told AFP.
Israeli frustration has grown at what it sees as a failure by the international community to take seriously the threat posed by Iran or to stop it inching ever closer to "break-out capacity."
Israel is currently the only nuclear-armed power in the region, causing several analysts and policy makers to accuse it of applying insidious double standards.
The Jewish state, however, refuses to publicly announce its nuclear program, and the US repeatedly ignores its existence.
A correspondence in the 1960s between Israeli prime minister Golda Mier and US president Richard Nixon confirmed the existence of the program, yet the US has never pressed Israel to disclose its nuclear activities or to sign the Non-Proliferation treaty. The situation stands in stark contrast to the West's current position on Iran, critics note.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pressing US President Barack Obama to identify "red lines" for when it would take action.
Obama, running for re-election in November and keen to avoid being depicted as soft on Iran by Republican challenger Mitt Romney, spoke to Netanyahu for an hour by phone earlier this week.