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Iran nuclear program: IAEA rebuke won't ease path to more sanctions

China did vote Friday for IAEA censure of Iran nuclear program, but its distaste for stiffer sanctions has not changed.

By Staff writer / November 27, 2009

Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, briefs the media during the IAEA's 35-nation board meeting at Vienna's International Center, in Vienna, Friday.

Hans Punz/AP

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Washington

Russia and China joined other world powers Friday in condemning Iran over its nuclear program and demanding that Iran freeze nuclear activities.

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The unusual show of unity on Iran by the biggest powers of the UN nuclear watchdog agency's board of governors does not guarantee that the road is cleared to a fresh round of economic sanctions on Iran. China in particular maintains that its distaste for sanctions has not changed and that it continues to favor resolution of the Iran crisis through dialogue.

In any case, Iranian officials said no amount of international pressure or number of threats would deter their country's nuclear advances, while some UN officials warned that the verbal reprimand of Tehran might simply reinforce Iran's nuclear hardliners.

The only certainty seems to be that Iran will remain at the top of the world's priorities: President Obama's deadline of the end of the year for Iran to respond to international offers of negotiations is just weeks away.

Meeting in Vienna Friday, the governing board of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved a resolution to censure Iran, with 25 of 35 members in favor. Perhaps most significant, the votes in favor included the United States, France, Britain, Germany, Russia, and China, thus bringing together all five permanent members of the UN Security Council (plus Germany) in condemnation of Iran's nuclear activities.

The chief US envoy to the IAEA, Glyn Davies, called the vote by the six a "significant development," noting that such unanimity on the Iranian issue had evaded the principal powers in the past. Echoing recent words from Mr. Obama, Mr. Davies said the US "remains firmly committed to a peaceful resolution to international concerns over Iran's nuclear program," but "our patience and that of the international community is limited."

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