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IAEA Meets on Iran Nuclear Issue


National envoys on the International Atomic Energy Agency board met Thursday to draw up a compromise resolution on Iran's nuclear program.

Diplomats on the 35-nation IAEA board are trying to formulate a resolution that would cite Iran for its breaches of international obligations, but not refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

One draft currently under review says the board strongly deplores past breaches by Iran and its failure to comply with the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

The resolution, supported by most European countries, calls on Iran to stick to the spirit and letter of the treaty in the future.

The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, said the international pressure is already producing results.

"I think we are moving on the right track, clearly. The situation on the ground is very encouraging," he said. "We now know much more about Iran's program, nature, extent, development. Iran is acting as if the protocol is in force, which is the protocol that gives us additional access to information and locations. Iran has also, as you know, decided to suspend its enrichment and related activities. And we are already in discussions with Iran to see how we are going to verify that suspension. So from a non-proliferation perspective, I think we are doing very well," he said.

But the U.N. nuclear chief said that for almost two decades Tehran has deliberately concealed sensitive aspects of its nuclear program and has even secretly produced small quantities of plutonium that could be used in bombs. But the IAEA stopped short of concluding that Iran is secretly producing nuclear weapons, as the United States charges.

The United States is seeking a resolution that would cite Iran for past infringements and include a clause that would punish Iran for future violations.

A compromise text is expected to include a language specifying what the consequences of Iran's future violations, such as withholding information or denying access to nuclear facilities, would be.

The IAEA debate on the resolution is expected to end Friday but, diplomats say, it could last until Saturday.

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