The United States has reached an agreement with key European countries on a resolution condemning Iran for clandestine nuclear activities. The resolution for the International Atomic Energy Agency governing board would put Iran on notice, at least implicitly, that further violations of nuclear accords would send the matter to the U.N. Security Council.
The Bush administration has insisted that Iran's violations of international nuclear agreements are already sufficient to merit a referral of the issue to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
But officials say the United States has accepted a compromise hammered out with Britain, France and Germany that criticizes Iran for nearly two decades of deception over its nuclear program but defers, at least for now, the question of a U.N. referral.
The IAEA governing board convened last week to discuss the Iranian nuclear issue but adjourned Friday without taking action amid the split between the United States and its main European allies over how to proceed.
As explained by officials here, the revised resolution would deplore past Iranian breaches of international nuclear obligations while also acknowledging recent openness by Tehran authorities, including a promise to visiting European foreign ministers last month to stop enriching uranium.
In its key provision, the subject of top-level negotiations, the measure would warn Iran that the IAEA board will meet immediately to consider all options available to it, implicitly including a Security Council referral, if further violations of Iran's nuclear obligations are uncovered.
The U.S. officials said the resolution would be considered when the IAEA meeting resumes Wednesday with the expectation that it will be acceptable to the full 35-member board. At an earlier news briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said there was wide agreement on what the resolution should accomplish:
"What we want to do in a resolution is to, I think, first of all, take into account Iran's past failures and breaches as the secretary - as the director general of the IAEA reported and identify the steps that Iran can take and needs to take to satisfy the international community that those won't recur, and then talk about how that process needs to unfold," he said.
The United States has long held that Iran's nominally-peaceful nuclear program concealed a clandestine weapons effort.
In a report earlier this month, the IAEA said Iran had secretly been enriching uranium and engaged in other breaches of its nuclear treaty obligations for 18 years, yet said there was "no evidence" it had sought to build a nuclear bomb.
Iran had recently warned that any direct mention of Security Council action in the IAEA resolution might prompt it to reconsider recent nuclear concessions, including opening its programs to increased international scrutiny.