* Resolution overwhelmingly approved by 35-nation IAEA board
* Six world powers sought broad backing for rebuking Tehran
* Keen for diplomatic breakthrough to avert threat of war
* Iran: IAEA governors' vote "complicates situation"
* Iran's "procrastination unacceptable," EU says
By Fredrik Dahl
VIENNA, Sept 13 The 35-nation board of the U.N.
nuclear watchdog censured Iran on Thursday for defying
international demands to curb uranium enrichment and failing to
address mounting disquiet about its suspected research into
Two days after Israel ramped up threats to attack its
arch-enemy Iran, the board overwhelmingly passed a resolution
voicing "serious concern" about Tehran's nuclear advances but
also making clear its desire for a peaceful resolution of the
Russia and China joined four U.S.-led Western powers in
sponsoring the resolution to display big power unity on Iran.
Only Cuba voted against. Three countries, including Egypt,
abstained, according to diplomats who took part in the
closed-door meeting at International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
headquarters in Vienna.
"The diplomatic pressure on Iran is increasing. The
isolation is increasing," U.S. envoy Robert Wood said.
But Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said
such resolutions were counterproductive. Iran has sallied ahead
with its nuclear programme despite a series of similar
resolutions since 2006 as well as harsh economic sanctions.
The difference now, though, is that the need for a
diplomatic breakthrough is becoming urgent given Israel's
increasingly strident demand that Iran be set a deadline to
cooperate or risk the Jewish state launching air strikes that
many fear could ignite a devastating Middle East war.
"It (the IAEA resolution) will only complicate the situation
and jeopardise the cooperative environment which we desperately
need," Soltanieh told reporters after the vote.
The resolution faults Iran for ignoring U.N. Security
Council calls on it to suspend uranium enrichment - a conduit to
producing fuel for nuclear power stations or bombs - and open up
to investigations of signs that it seeks nuclear arms know-how.
Six world powers had tabled a resolution text on Wednesday,
aiming to raise pressure on Iran to relent, a day after Israel
signalled it was almost out of patience with the use of
diplomacy and sanctions to try to rein in the Islamic Republic.
South Africa, like Iran a member of the Non-Aligned Movement
of mostly developing nations, earlier plunged the meeting into
confusion by putting forward an amendment which some Western
diplomats said might have weakened the language towards Iran.
But a compromise was hammered out during a three-hour
adjournment of the meeting, the diplomats said, satisfying the
United States, Russia, France, China, Britain and Germany.
The amendment concerned a section of the text demanding that
Iran immediately implement a yet-to-be agreed framework accord
with the IAEA on how the agency should conduct its investigation
into suspected nuclear explosives research in the Islamic state.
The compromise changed the original text but not as far as
the South African proposal, easing Western fears that it could
lower the heat on Tehran to come clean with IAEA sleuths.
The IAEA has tried in a series of high-profile meetings with
Iran that began in January to agree a "Structured Approach" on
how to carry out its inquiry. IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano
said this week that no concrete results had been achieved,
calling the lack of progress "frustrating".
"Iran has not engaged seriously and without preconditions in
talks aimed at restoring international confidence in the
exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear programme," the
27-nation European Union said in a statement to the board.
"Iran's procrastination is unacceptable," the bloc said.
Wood, the U.S. envoy, accused Iran of "systematically
demolishing" a facility at the Parchin military site that IAEA
inspectors want to visit as part of their investigation.
"Iran has been taking measures that appear consistent with
an effort to remove evidence of its past activities at Parchin,"
he told the board gathering.
Soltanieh dismissed what he called the "noise about
cleaning" and "distorted information" about Parchin, a vast
military complex southeast of Tehran where the IAEA suspects
Iran has carried out explosives tests relevant for atom bombs.
Iran says it wants to produce electricity from enriched
uranium and not bombs. Refined uranium can be used to fuel
nuclear power plants. If enriched to a high degree, it can
provide the explosive core for a nuclear warhead.
Israel, believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed
state, sees the danger of Iran developing an atom bomb as a
threat to its existence and has stepped up hints of air strikes
on Iranian nuclear installations.
But Benjamin Netanyahu's deputy for intelligence and atomic
affairs, Dan Meridor, on Thursday publicly disagreed with the
Israeli prime minister's call for Iran to be confronted with a
"red line" beyond which its disputed nuclear programme would
face military attack.
He called for international sanctions against Tehran to be
intensified "so it understands that the price it is paying is
mounting and that the only way to be rid of it is to stop the
(nuclear) race, to arrive at an agreement, or an international
understanding, that it is calling it quits".
Meridor, part of Netanyahu's inner security cabinet,
took a more moderate view of a nuclear-armed Iran than the
premier, who has likened that prospect to a second Holocaust.
"I don't want to speak in apocalyptic ... Holocaust terms,"
said Meridor. "I think that we are strong and we will overcome
the challenges, but this is a serious challenge."
The United States, Israel's main ally, says there is still
time for diplomacy and sanctions to make Iran, one of the
world's largest oil exporters, change course.