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Terrorism & Security

Iran faces possible U.N. sanctions over nuclear program

The US is pushing stronger action, but others want only mild measures.

By Correspondent / February 26, 2008



The UN Security Council is weighing a vote later this week to impose fresh sanctions on Iran over its uranium enrichment program. The UN's watchdog agency has warned that the program, which Iran calls peaceful, may still include a military component. This week, the International Atomic Energy Agency heard evidence that Iran had secretly developed nuclear arms after 2003.

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The IAEA assessment, issued last Friday, provoked controversy because United States intelligence agencies concluded last year that Iran had stopped a nuclear weapons program in 2003. Iran denounced documents submitted to the IAEA as "forgeries."

The US has been pushing for tougher UN sanctions on Iran and the Bush administration has long argued that Iran is trying to build atomic weapons. Still, opposition from other permanent members of the UN Security Council is expected, and the outcome is likely to be a mild range of measures that rebuke Iran.

In its Friday report, the IAEA said that Iran had continued to enrich uranium in defiance of the Security Council resolutions, the Associated Press reports. The report also said that previous issues that raised suspicion had been largely resolved, but questions remained over possible military applications that Iran, so far, has been unable to answer satisfactorily.

The BBC says that material presented to the IAEA's 35-nation board on Monday included designs for a nuclear warhead and information about how it would fit onto a missile. The dates of these purported weapons experiments went "beyond 2003," according to Simon Smith, the British representative to the agency.

Rasoul Movahedian, the Iranian ambassador to Britain, told the Financial Times that the US was trying to sabotage its cooperation with the IAEA. He said that spurious documentary claims of weapons plans were being sprung on Iran at the last minute, contrary to an earlier agreement with the nuclear agency.

The Washington Post reports that representatives from major powers met Monday to discuss strategy on Iran, including possible new European-favored incentives for cooperation. Britain, China, the US, Russia, France, and Germany agreed to push for a UN Security Council resolution this week to authorize the third set of sanctions since 2006, though unanimity is unlikely because of differences in the 15-member council. The five permanent members have veto power; otherwise nine votes are sufficient for the resolution.

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