Saturday, February 4, 2006
The IAEA board has passed a resolution to report Iran to the United Nations Security Council. The decision by the 35-nation board came on Saturday.
The resolution was made without waiting for the director of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, to finish preparing a report on Iran’s civilian (and allegedly military) nuclear programs for the regular IAEA meeting scheduled for March 6. According to al-Jazeera, ElBaradei refused to accept pressure from Western states to finish his report in advance of the March 6 meeting. ElBaradei said in written responses to requests by the US and EU member states that he had given Iran until the meeting in March to answer questions to IAEA enquiries, stating, Due process, therefore, must take its course before [we are] able to submit a detailed report. ElBaradei also said that another IAEA verification mission was due in Iran shortly and that he had only in mid-January sent extra questions to Iran based on what diplomats called newly released intelligence.
The text of the resolution, made without the results of the report, which will only be ready in March, requires ElBaradei to report to the Security Council “steps Iran needs to take to dispel suspicions about its nuclear ambitions.”
The resolution states that there are serious concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. It also notes, “Iran’s many failures and breaches of its obligations,” (to the non-proliferation treaty) and expresses “the absence of confidence that Iran’s nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.”
The resolution also states that Iran is to:
- Re-establish a freeze on uranium enrichment and related activities;
- Consider whether to stop construction of a heavy water reactor that could be the source of plutonium for weapons;
- Formally ratify an agreement allowing the IAEA greater inspecting authority and continue honoring the agreement before it is ratified; and
- Give the IAEA additional power in its investigation of Iran’s nuclear program, including “access to individuals” for interviews, as well as to documentation on its black-market nuclear purchases, equipment that could be used for nuclear and non-nuclear purposes and “certain military-owned workshops” where nuclear activities could take place
The resolution calling for the referral was apparently drafted by several members states of the European Union together with the United States. Political analyst Joshua Frank claims that the US is not interested in diplomatic means of limiting Iran’s possible shift towards nuclear weapons development and that the major reasons are Iran’s oil supplies and plans to open an International Oil Bourse in petroeuros, which would challenge the petrodollar, on March 20, 2006.
The agency vote sets the stage for future action by the top U.N. body. Russia and China insisted, in casting their votes with the majority, that future votes on deliberations should wait until at least March. The outcome could include economic and political sanctions. This process of successive escalation of the tension between Iran and the Western members of the Security Council was described by Hans Blix, responsible for about 700 inspections for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, as spin and momentum. He was in favour of inducing Iran to forego enrichment but also recommended that the United States give a similar commitment not to attack Iran with either conventional or nuclear weapons, just as it apparently has to North Korea.
27 of the 35 nations on the board voted for the referral.
Three nations that voted against the resolution: Cuba, Syria and Venezuela. Five other countries Algeria, Belarus, Indonesia, Libya and South Africa, abstained.
Jack Straw, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, a nuclear weapons state obliged under Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to destroy its own, existing nuclear weapons, said that the IAEA vote showed “the international community’s determination to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.”
After the decision, Iran said today that it would “immediately” begin the steps to “restart full-scale uranium enrichment” and “curtail” the powers of the IAEA inspectors.
Javad Vaeedi, deputy Iranian nuclear negotiator, said in a press conference after the vote, “After this decision, Iran has to immediately bring into force its parliamentary law to suspend voluntary implementation of (the watchdog agency’s) Additional Protocol (on snap inspections) and (pursue) commercial-scale enrichment which until today was under full suspension.” He also said, “this resolution is politically motivated since it is not based on legal or technical grounds.”
Iran has also said that a proposed deal by Moscow to enrich Iranian uranium is dead.
“There is no adequate reason to pursue the Russian plan,” said Vaeedi. “Commercial scale uranium enrichment will be resumed in Natanz in accordance with the law passed by the parliament.”
Iran had said that it will “end cooperation with IAEA”, if referred to the Security Council.
As of January 31, 2006, the Deputy Director General for Safeguards of the IAEA had reported that Iran has continued to facilitate access under its Safeguards Agreement as requested by the Agency, and to act as if the Additional Protocol is in force, including by providing in a timely manner the requisite declarations and access to locations.