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UN: IAEA Reports Iran's Noncooperation To Security Council

Iranian President Ahmadinejad has said no one can deprive Iran of its nuclear technology (epa) PRAGUE, April 28, 2006 (RFE/RL) –- The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent a report to the Security Council today that faults Iran for failing to meet demands to suspend uranium enrichment and improve cooperation with arms inspectors.

The report marks the end of the 30-day period that the Security Council gave Iran in March to assure the world body its nuclear activities are for only civilian purposes.

The IAEA report says Iran has ignored the Security Council's demand to suspend uranium enrichment program and instead has accelerated it. Uranium enrichment is a process that can lead to producing nuclear fuel or, at high levels of enrichment, material for nuclear bombs.

The report also says Tehran has done little over the past 30 days to answer questions about its nuclear activities that could help investigators determine whether they are purely for peaceful purposes -- as Tehran claims.

Iran Defiant

The conclusions in the report come as little surprise, as Tehran has made it repeatedly clear in the run-up to the report's release that it has no intention of abandoning its uranium-enrichment program.

"The Iranian nation has reached the nuclear fuel cycle by relying on its youth," Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said at a meeting of young people in Iran's Zanjan Province on April 27. "It has not received help from anyone. It has reached it by relying on the capabilities of its youth and no one can take it away from [the Iranian nation]."

Today, Ahmadinejad told another rally that "those who want to prevent Iranians from obtaining their right, should know that we do not give a damn about such resolutions."

Security Council Deadlock

The submission of the IAEA report now sets the stage for another round of tough discussions at the Security Council regarding how to deal with Iran. The deliberations could last weeks before the five permanent members of the Security Council agree on their next step.

That is because -- as the previous round of debate 30 days ago demonstrated -- there are deep differences between the Western nations, on one side, and Russia and China, on the other, over how to best deal with Tehran.

Washington and London want to apply much stronger pressure on Iran and have spent much of the past 30 days trying to build support for doing so.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said on April 27 that Tehran has isolated itself from the international community by its nuclear activities, that "the Iranians have crossed all the international red lines," which will "force a significant debate" in the Security Council.

In recent days Washington has spoken of trying to get the UN to declare Iran a threat to international peace and security. At the same time, the United States has approached Russia, unsuccessfully, to suspend a key arms deal with Tehran as one way of applying sanctions-like pressures.

Washington is considered likely to argue for the Security Council to back such initiatives in the new round of discussions now set to begin in New York.

And the United States now may get greater support from EU states beyond Britain. The EU states have charged Iran with seeking nuclear weapons but until recently had sought to convince Iran to give up uranium enrichment in exchange for trade incentives.

Russia, China On The Fence

Still, the big question is whether Russia and China are now ready to back anything more than negotiations with Iran to solve the crisis.

China's ambassador to the UN, Wang Guangya, told reporters on April 27 that Beijing wants "a diplomatic solution" only. "I do hope that all members should take a constructive approach and not to say anything or take any action that might aggravate the situation," he added.

Moscow has sought unsuccessfully to persuade Iran to do its uranium enrichment in Russia, where it can be carefully monitored. But that approach broke down under Tehran's insistence it retain the right to do some enrichment in Iran, and Washington's rejection of any such compromise.

That leaves Russia still looking for the middle ground.

"Every country in the world, including Iran, has the right to develop nuclear energy peacefully," the head of Russia's Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom), Sergei Kiriyenko, said on April 20 in Kyrgyzstan.

"This is the first principle. The second principle is that the international community has the right to demand unconditional guarantees of compliance with the nonproliferation regime so that nuclear weapons are not built again," he added. "The goal is to combine these two principles."

The Military Option

As the five permanent Security Council members now prepare to take up the Iran debate again, media speculation frequently focuses on whether Washington could ultimately take unilateral military action.

Top U.S. officials have refused to rule out such a possibility, saying that all options remain on the table. However they have stressed repeatedly that Washington wants to solve the crisis through diplomacy.

Most analysts see any military option as a last resort. Anthony Cordesman, a security analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, says Washington views the contest in terms of years, not months, and believes time is on its side.

"U.S. intelligence is talking about [Iran having] nuclear weapons after 2010, it's not something where immediate diplomatic or military action has to be decisive this month or with this meeting of the Security Council," he says.

UN officials have yet to announce when the new round of debate at the Security Council will begin.

(RFE/RL's Radio Farda and RFE/RL Washington correspondent Andrew F. Tully contributed to this report.)

Iran's Nuclear Program

Iran's Nuclear Program

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


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.