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Resolution on Iran nuclear program hailed by US, but lacks teeth

The US lauds the 'unified message' sent by the UN's nuclear watchdog expressing 'deep and increasing concern' over the Iran nuclear program. But the resolution lays no groundwork for action.

By Staff writer / November 18, 2011

Iran's Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, waits for the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center, in Vienna Friday. The U.N. atomic agency's new resolution on Iran criticizes Tehran's nuclear defiance but, in a concession to Russia and China, does not set an ultimatum for allowing a probe of its alleged secret work on nuclear weapons.

Ronald Zak/AP



A resolution Friday by the UN nuclear watchdog expressing “deep and increasing concern” over Iran’s nuclear program achieved the first goal the United States sought from its adoption: international unity.

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China and Russia signed on to the resolution, which expresses a new level of urgency, allowing both the White House and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to say that the world has sent a “unified message” to Iran that it must answer growing questions about signs of a military dimension to its program.

But now comes the even harder part: getting the international community to move beyond rhetoric to act on its “increasing” concerns.

No one expects the adoption of a resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors alone will prompt Iran to alter a program that the IAEA says shows signs of research and development in areas that could only have a military application.

Indeed if there were any doubts about how Iran would respond to the resolution, Iranian officials quickly laid them to rest. In comments after the vote, Iran’s representative to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said his country would not bow to international pressure over allegations which he said are “fabricated.”

Iran, he said, “will never ever suspend our [uranium] enrichment,” one of the elements of Iran’s nuclear program that is progressing and that worries the international community.

But Secretary Clinton made clear in her comments after the resolution’s adoption that the US plans to use the IAEA vote to spur the world on to increased pressure on Iran to alter its course.

“In the coming weeks we will work with our international partners to increase the pressure on Iran’s government until it decides to meet its international obligations,” she said.

Other Western leaders spoke with similar certainty about prospects for additional pressure on Iran if it does not respond to the IAEA demands for explanations.

“If Iran refuses to comply with her international obligations – very clearly reiterated again today – we shall, along with all of our partners, adopt sanctions on an unprecedented scale,” said French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé.


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