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IAEA Studies Compromise on Iran's Nuclear Program - 2003-09-11


Diplomats at the International Atomic Energy Agency are studying a new compromise resolution on Iran's nuclear program ahead of a vote expected Friday.

Diplomats say support is growing on the IAEA board of governors for a draft resolution sponsored by Australia, Canada, and Japan. It calls for Iran to fully cooperate with the agency, and sets an end of October deadline.

It is a compromise between two previous resolutions concerning Iran's nuclear activities, but western diplomats say their position has largely been adopted. A softer resolution sponsored by South Africa would not have set any deadline for Iranian compliance.

According to the diplomats, the new resolution is likely to get a comfortable majority on the 35-nation board, sending what they call a strong message to Iran. Lobbying continued as diplomats conferred with their capitals to get their instructions for the vote.

The Iranian envoy, Ali Akbar Salehi, said any resolution with a deadline in it would only be good for the archives. But the IAEA says a deadline is implicit, whether it is in a resolution or not, because its board will issue another report on Iran in November, and could refer the Iran issue to the Security Council.

IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said the main concern of agency director Mohammed ElBaradei is that he can not currently give any guarantees to the international community that Iran's nuclear intentions are purely peaceful.

"So we are going to be expecting and needing Iran's cooperation in the light of the fact that the next report of the board of governors will be in November and knowing that it will be considered by the board as a decisive report," she said. "Mr. ElBaradei continues to call on Iran to give us the greatest possible level of cooperation."

Ms. Fleming said that throughout October, the IAEA plans an intensive inspection process at nuclear sites and related locations in Iran. But Tehran has hinted it will break off cooperation with the agency if the resolution goes too far.

The United States told the board earlier this week that Iran has been working in secret since the 1980s to develop sophisticated nuclear facilities. Washington believes these facilities are part of a program designed to equip Iran with a nuclear bomb.