IAEA votes to censure Iran nuclear program
IAEA censure of Iran nuclear program comes as UN nuclear watchdog chief ElBaradei says agency at 'dead end' with Iran.
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The board of the UN's nuclear watchdog voted to censure Iran's nuclear program and demand that it shut down its recently discovered uranium-enrichment facility at Qom. The resolution comes just a day after Mohamed ElBaradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency's outgoing chief, said that the agency's dealings with Iran were at a "dead end."
With rare Russian and Chinese backing, the vote sent a message of increasing international resolve to challenge Iran over its disputed nuclear ambitions.
But it was unclear whether the measure, sponsored by six world powers, would translate to crucial Russian-Chinese support for painful sanctions that Western leaders will push for early next year if Iran does not embark on steps to defuse mistrust.
The measure won blanket Western backing. Cuba, Malaysia and Venezuela, prominent in a developing nation bloc that includes Iran, voted "no," while Afghanistan, Brazil, Egypt, Pakistan, South Africa and Turkey abstained. Azerbaijan missed the ballot.
The Jerusalem Post writes that the resolution comes in response to the IAEA's concern over Iran after the September discovery of its secret uranium-enrichment facility in Qom. The announcement revealing the facility, made jointly by the US, Britain, and France, contradicted Iran's insistence that it was not hiding anything from the IAEA.
A perusal of IAEA records shows that Teheran's chief envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told the agency's board last year that his country "has repeatedly declared that there is no undeclared nuclear material and activity in Iran" - this at the time when construction of the secret nuclear facility was in full force.
The resolution criticized Iran for defying a UN Security Council ban on uranium enrichment - the source of both nuclear fuel and the fissile core of warheads.
It also censured it for secretly building a uranium enrichment facility; noted that ElBaradei could not confirm that Teheran's nuclear program was exclusively geared toward peaceful uses, and expressed "serious concern" that Iranian stonewalling of an IAEA probe means "the possibility of military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program" cannot be excluded.