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IAEA board in session (file photo) (epa) March 8, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations' nuclear watchdog has voted unanimously to cut almost half its aid programs to Iran as part of UN sanctions over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted the aid cuts during today's meeting of its 35-nation board of governors in Vienna. The cuts were proposed in accordance with a UN Security Council resolution adopted in December.


Following provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1737, the IAEA partially or completely froze 22 of its 55 technical cooperation projects with Iran.


The Security Council resolution called for sanctions on Iran for refusing to halt the enrichment of uranium. The United States accuses Tehran of trying to build nuclear weapons in violation of international treaties.


Bitter Criticism From Tehran


Iranian Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh told a press conference in Vienna today that the aid cuts will not affect Tehran's uranium enrichment work.


Soltanieh also bitterly criticized members of the UN Security Council for their role in today's aid cut decision, saying they had undermined the IAEA's independence


"The world has the right to know that only few countries, and a few handful of countries on the [IAEA] board of governors, because of the political motivation, sent this issue to the United Nations Security Council and opened a track of confrontation," Soltanieh said.


Iran insists its nuclear program is only for the peaceful civilian purpose of generating electricity. Soltanieh says Iran rejects what he called the UN Security Council's "interference" in IAEA technical affairs.


However, the German ambassador to the IAEA, Peter Gottwald, says sanctions are necessary because Iran has not met its obligations under the Security Council resolution.


"Obviously, there is a logic in the Security Council Resolution 1737," Gottwald said. "As we have just stated, the Islamic Republic of Iran, so far, has not complied with that resolution. So that resolution already foresees further action and that action is actually going on in New York right now."


The IAEA's Vienna meeting comes as Germany and the Security Council's permanent members -- the United States, Russia, France, Britain, and China -- discuss the possiblity of further sanctions to punish Iran for its noncompliance.


On March 7, Iran rebuffed an appeal from the European Union to accept a proposal under which Iran would suspend enrichment in return for a suspension of sanctions.


(compiled from agency reports)

Iran's Nuclear Program


THE COMPLETE PICTURE: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


CHRONOLOGY

An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.

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