UN Nuclear Watchdog to Soften Iran Resolution, as Gesture to China and Russia

IAEA to issue more moderate condemnation, despite recent report revealing that Iran is working toward developing nuclear weapons.

A new resolution on Iran drafted by the International Atomic Energy Agency only moderately condemns the Islamic Republic's nuclear defiance, softening the body's recent damning report revealing that Tehran was working toward developing atomic weapons.

The new resolution was drafted as a concession to China and Russia, which are balking at international efforts to toughen sanctions against Tehran.

Iran nuclear plant in Bushehr, AP

The document is expected to be circulated and voted on Friday by the United Nations agency's 35-nation board.

It had been eagerly awaited as a signal of how harshly Iran would be treated for ignoring both IAEA and UN Security Council demands that it stop activities that could be used to make nuclear arms and allow the agency to probe its alleged secret weapons work.

The United States and Western nations sought out a tough resolution that would send a strong message to Iran, but decided to compromise when they understood that Russia and China will not support it.

The resolution condemns Iran for advancing a nuclear program that according to a recent IAEA report, has "military dimensions," however the condemnation will not be worded as strongly as Israel and the United States wanted.

The text shared with the AP reflected compromise on both sides. It expressed "serious concern that Iran continues to defy the requirements and obligations contained in the relevant IAEA Board of Governors and UN Security Council Resolutions." It also spoke of "deep and increasing concern about the unresolved issues regarding the Iranian nuclear program, including those which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions."

"Serious concern," and "deep and increasing concern" are strong terms in the diplomatic world. At the same time, the text had no reference to Security Council referral if Tehran remained defiant, although two Western diplomats said that could still happen at the next IAEA meeting in March.

In opening comments to the meeting, IAEA chief Yukiya Amano also repeated his concerns "regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program," saying such work may extend into the present.

The West had hoped that an unprecedented detailing of Iran's alleged secret weapons work contained in a restricted Nov. 8 IAEA report could sway Moscow and Beijing. For the first time, the agency said Iran was suspected of clandestine work that is "specific to nuclear weapons."

In comments to the closed meeting made available to reporters, Amano said his agency finds the information leading to such suspicions to be generally credible.

"The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device," he said. "It also indicates that, prior to the end of 2003, these activities took place under a structured program, and that some activities may still be ongoing."

Amano said he has written Iranian officials proposing that a high-level IAEA mission go to Tehran to try and jump-start his agency's stalled probe and is awaiting a reply.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: למרות הדו"ח התקיף, מסתמן גינוי פושר של איראן