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IAEA Adopts Resolution Criticizing Iran - 2004-06-18

The International Atomic Energy Agency has adopted a tough resolution, rebuking Iran for concealing the full extent of its nuclear program. Tehran says its program is for peaceful purposes, but delegates to the United Nations agency are concerned by reports that Tehran is clearing up nuclear sites.

The I.A.E.A. is looking at intelligence that some experts believe shows Iran has bulldozed an entire restricted area next to a military complex on the outskirts of Tehran. A Vienna-based western diplomat, speaking on the condition of anonymity, called the allegations serious and deeply troubling. The diplomat said this looked like further Iranian efforts to cover up a nuclear weapons program.

The reports came as delegates passed a resolution calling for Iran to step up its cooperation with the I.A.E.A.

Britain, France and Germany introduced a strongly worded resolution that won consensus Friday from the 35-nation I.A.E.A. board. It deplores Iran's poor record of cooperation with the I.A.E.A., and calls on Tehran to voluntarily reconsider going ahead with key parts of its atomic program that could produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Gary Samore, director of Studies at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies and a former U.S official, says that, if Iran does not comply this time, the Europeans could soon support the United States on the issue.

"The Europeans are warning Iran that, if it moves ahead with its nuclear program, and doesn't address concerns that have been raised by the I.A.E.A., then the Europeans will support American efforts to move the issue from the I.A.E.A. in Vienna to the U.N. Security Council in New York, with the possibility that the Security Council would impose political and economic sanctions against Iran," he said.

The resolution calls for the I.A.E.A. to report well before the next board meeting, scheduled for September, on any progress made in getting to the bottom of the aim and nature of Iran's nuclear program.

Iran has informed the agency it has plans for a heavy-water reactor, but says it is for medical and industrial purposes. Some Western diplomats say this is a huge investment, and that there can be no justification for such an outlay for civilian use. Iran is not a member of the I.A.E.A. board, but a large delegation from Tehran lobbied hard all week for changes to the resolution.

The European resolution contains no deadline for Iran to come clean on its nuclear program as sought by the United States. But it says Tehran must provide prompt access to data, sites and persons for the I.A.E.A. to do its job.