IRAN GIVEN 50 DAYS TO COMPLY WITH IAEA OR FACE SANCTIONS
VIENNA, 12 Sept. (IPS) The Islamic Republic of Iran suffered a humiliating defeat at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after the 35 members Board of the Directors gave Tehran until the end of October to open up all its nuclear projects for inspections.
Adopted without a vote, a procedure that the IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said described as "very unusual", the resolution, presented by Japan, Canada and Australia, urges the Islamic Republic to also suspend its secret uranium enriching programs.
Iranís delegation at the Board, led by Ali Akbar Salehi, its Ambassador at the IAEA, walked out of the meeting immediately after it became clear that the resolution would be adopted. "The Iranian walkout was a protest against the resolution and against the procedure", an IAEA spokesman explained.
What surprised and angered Iran was that some non-aligned countries had also joined the resolution, adopted after months of tough bickering and lobbying from Iran in the one hand and the United States on the other.
Russia, which is constructing the 1000 megawatts, 800 million US dollars Booshehr power plant, also voted the resolution
According to the resolution, it is "essential and urgent" for Iran to "remedy all failures" in compliance reported by the IAEA since inspections began in February, after Iran was revealed to more nuclear facilities than thought.
But the language of the resolution had been toned down, "requesting" rather than "calling" for Iran to sign an additional protocol to the NPT to allow IAEA inspectors to make surprise visits to suspect sites, observers noted.
In Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the regimeís virtual number two man and Chairman of the Assembly for Discerning the Interests of the State (ADIS), or the Expediency Council criticised the UN watchdog on nuclear issues for what it described as the Agencyís "false reports" on Iranís nuclear activities.
Addressing worshipers at the Tehran Friday prayers, Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani termed as "unjust, unilateral and bullying" what is going on in the meeting of the IAEA board of governors in Vienna and warned that the IAEA would be responsible for what it would decide on Iran.
"In Vienna, pressure is exerted against Iran to sign the additional protocol to the NPT unconditionally and immediately. This is a great insult, and a shame on big powers as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency, sine the acceptance of the additional protocol is not obligatory for any country in the world, and currently, too, only 32 countries have signed it", he claimed.
"America and some European countries are trying to drive the (board's) decision toward political aims", Iranís Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi told the official news agency IRNA.
"Iran desires cooperation with the IAEA and to enable this agency to make a decision based on realities", he added, backing off from earlier warning that Iran might stop cooperating with the Vienna-based IAEA if it is pressed to sign the additional protocols to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and open up all its nuclear activities for inspection by the Agencyís experts without proper compensation.
"We hope the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency will not give in to political pressures", IRNA had quoted Kharazi as having saying.
Hard line Iranian newspapers had urged the government to get out of the NPT at once, claiming signing the additional protocols would open Iranian nuclear, military and other strategic installations to spies.
The United States and Israel alleges that Iranís present nuclear-powered electrical plant under construction in the Persian Gulf of Booshehr with the help of Russia is a cover for developing nuclear weapons.
That claim is strongly rejected by both Tehran and Moscow, insisting that all the nuclear-related projects are for civilian use only.
Ruling Iranian ayatollahs also observes that Islam forbids nuclear arms, although they do not say how the religion has banned weapons discovered some sixty-seventy years ago.
Washington had lobbied hard during five days of closed-door talks by the IAEAís Board of Directors to get the resolution adopted and on Wednesday, it had secured the cooperation of Britain, France, Germany and Japan circulating a draft resolution calling on Iran to stop all its nuclear project, particularly enriching uranium.
The IAEA said in an August 26 report that inspectors found traces of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium at an enrichment facility that Iran has built secretly at Natanz, in central Iran, arousing suspicions that Iran might have been secretly purifying uranium for use in nuclear weapons.
The Friday resolution could lead to the Iranian issue being referred to the UN Security Council, which has the power to impose punishing sanctions.
Excerpts of an International Atomic Energy Agency resolution passed Friday that gives Iran until the end of October to dispel suspicions it may be running a covert nuclear weapons program, as compiled by the American news agency Associated Press:
The conference, "calls on Iran to provide accelerated cooperation and full transparency to allow the agency to provide at an early date the assurances required by (IAEA) member states".
"Calls on Iran to ensure there are no further failures to report material, facilities and activities that Iran is obliged to report", to the IAEA.
"Calls on Iran to suspend all further uranium enrichment-related activities".
Decides it is "essential and urgent ... that Iran remedy all failures identified by the agency and cooperate fully with the agency to ensure verification of compliance with Iran's safeguards agreement by taking all necessary actions by the end of October 2003, including:
Providing a full declaration of all important material and components relevant to the (uranium) enrichment program ....
Granting unrestricted access, including environmental sampling, for the agency ... for the purposes of verification of the correctness and completeness of Iran's declarations".
The resolution also calls on Iran "to promptly and unconditionally sign, ratify and fully implement" an additional IAEA protocol opening all its nuclear activities to IAEA inspectors.
It calls on IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei to report back to the
board on Iran's compliance by November, the date of the next scheduled board
Board Members for 2002-2003
Member States represented on the IAEA Board for 2002.2003 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Japan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Panama, Philippines, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America. ENDS IAEA IRAN 12903