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Powell: US 'Very Satisfied' With Proposed Iran Nuclear Resolution - 2003-11-25

Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States is "very satisfied" with a pending International Atomic Energy Agency resolution deploring Iranian breaches of international nuclear commitments. The measure is expected to be approved by the IAEA governing board Wednesday.

The measure represents a compromise for the Bush administration, which had wanted Iranian nuclear violations to be immediately referred by the IAEA board to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

But Secretary Powell, who negotiated terms of the resolution with key European countries, says the United States is very happy and satisfied with the final document, which is expected to be adopted by consensus when the 35-member board reconvenes Wednesday in Vienna.

At a news conference with Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski, Mr. Powell said the measure notes that Iran has been in been in breach of international nuclear obligations over the years, and that Tehran is put on notice that additional violations will prompt the IAEA to take action:

"There is one particular paragraph in the resolution that makes it very very clear that if Iran does not now comply with its obligations and the other agreements it has entered into, then this will be a matter that will immediately be referred to the IAEA board of governors for action as appropriate under various statutes," he said. "So that is I think an important element in the resolution, an element that we wanted to see in the resolution."

The deal on the resolution, reached late Monday, broke an impasse between the United States and its European allies Britain, France and Germany over how to deal with the Iranian nuclear issue.

The European countries had recently persuaded Iran to submit to stricter international nuclear inspections and had sought a milder resolution than the United States, which has long held that Iran's nominally-peaceful nuclear program conceals a secret-weapons project.

U.S. officials say they are satisfied with the terms of the compromise, which "strongly deplores" clandestine nuclear activities by Iran and makes the implicit threat that further revelations will lead to a referral of the matter to the Security Council.

The IAEA board began meeting last week to consider how to respond to a report on the Iranian nuclear program by the U.N. agency's Director-General Mohammed el-Baradei.

He said Iran has been enriching uranium and otherwise violating nuclear-safeguard agreements for the past 18 years, though he said there was "no evidence" Iran has sought to build a nuclear bomb.