Friday, September 10, 2004

US gives up on getting Iran to UN Security Council in September

Channelnewsasia.com: "US gives up on getting Iran to UN Security Council in September: US official

VIENNA : The United States now realizes that it does not have the majority it needs at the UN nuclear watchdog to bring Iran before the UN Security Council over Tehran's alleged atomic weapons program, a US official told AFP.

"We recognize we are not going to get majority support for a non-compliance finding (to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) in September" at the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board of governors meeting in Vienna that begins Monday, a US state department official told AFP by phone from Washington.

The official said US Under Secretary of State for arms control and international security John Bolton was now talking in Geneva with European diplomats "about a trigger mechanism" to effectively set a deadline for Iran ahead of the following IAEA board meeting in November.

The trigger could be "to require that Iran suspend immediately and fully all uranium enrichment-related work" or "for Iran to grant complete, immediate, unrestricted access to whatever locations the IAEA deems necessary" or for Iran to provide by a certain date, such as October 31, "full information on all imported materials and components relevant to the P1 and P2 centrifuge program," the official said.

Uranium can be enriched through centrifuges into a highly refined form that can be used as fuel for civilian reactors or to make an atomic bomb.

Europe's three main countries -- Britain, France and Germany -- are against taking Iran to the Security Council as they stress cooperating with Tehran to get it to come clean about its program.

But diplomats said the three countries were now backing the US call for Iran to fully suspend enrichment, including the first step of converting mineral uranium yellowcake into the gas that is the feedstock for making the enriched uranium that can be used in bombs.

A "tactical gap" between Washington and the European countries was narrowing but "we have a ways to go," Bolton told a news conference in Geneva, following a US-hosted meeting with his counterparts from the other Group of Eight (G8) industrialized countries.

"The objective that the United States has been pursuing has been to ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapons capability and that is an objective shared by all of the G-8 countries," Bolton said.

"There is no disagreement on our broad objective. What we have tried to do here today and yesterday was to close the tactical gap that has existed between the United States and ... Britain France and Germany," he said.

"We made progress in that regard here ... I think discussions will continue over the weekend and into next week and we will see what we are able to do."

The US envoy declined, however, to say exactly what advances had been made.

"I do not want to really get into the specifics because the questions of closing the tactical gap I think are best addressed in private consultations," he said, adding that emails and telephone calls would follow Friday's talks.

The United States and the Euro 3 are separately preparing resolutions for Monday's IAEA meeting in Vienna.

Iran's controversial bid to generate nuclear power at its Bushehr plant is seen by arch-enemies Israel and the United States as a cover for nuclear weapons development, allegations that Iran denies.

Government officials from the G8 countries -- Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States -- as well as other nations met in Geneva on Thursday to discuss non-proliferation issues."

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