A tough European resolution deploring Iran's level of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is making the diplomatic rounds before a major executive meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog next week.
IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said that tension is building as the board meeting approaches. "I can say most certainly that there is a very important board of governors meeting coming up starting Monday the 14th [and] dealing with a wide range of topics, not the least of which will be a very significant and probably controversial discussion about the situation in Iran," he said.
France, Britain, and Germany are circulating a draft resolution on Iran's nuclear program that rebukes Tehran for its reluctant co-operation with the agency. It also urges Tehran to scuttle its plans to operate a uranium conversion facility.
The Europeans expressed regret that Iran has not kept to a deal with them to suspend all aspects of its uranium-enrichment program. The draft also urges Tehran not to build a heavy-water research reactor that could produce bomb-grade plutonium.
A confidential report written by the head of IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, circulated to diplomats on the board, noted with surprise that Iran plans to build a heavy-water facility with walls of excessive dimensions.
Iran maintains its whole nuclear program is for the peaceful production of energy, and rejects charges by the United States and other countries that it is secretly building nuclear weapons.
A U.S. diplomat in Vienna says he is confident the board will take a firm decision on Iran next week.
A western diplomat, who did not want to be named, said there is a growing feeling within the nuclear watchdog agency that Iran should not be allowed to continue its nuclear program and delay international intervention for as long as it can.
The IAEA report notes there are outstanding questions about Iran's nuclear activity, including the sources of highly enriched uranium contamination found on equipment at one nuclear facility. IAEA inspectors found not only traces of the uranium, but evidence of Iran's effort to cover it up.
In April, Iran delayed IAEA inspections for almost a month and some western diplomats suspect that Iran is buying time to cover its tracks. Mr. ElBaradei has said that, if Iran's program can be shown to be linked to military activity, then the matter will go to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.