"It's a text that all six countries can live with," the diplomat close to the talks told Reuters late on Thursday ... Reuters
By Louis Charbonneau
VIENNA - The United States compromised with France, Britain and Germany on a toughly-worded U.N. nuclear resolution on Iran that calls for an immediate halt to Tehran's uranium enrichment programme, a Western diplomat said.
"It's a text that all six countries can live with," the diplomat close to the talks told Reuters late on Thursday, referring to discussions between Canada, Australia and the European Union's "big three" on Iran's nuclear programme, which Washington says is a cover for a nuclear weapons programme.
Iran's programme for uranium enrichment, a process of purifying uranium for use as fuel for power plants or nuclear weapons, is the most controversial part of Tehran's atomic plans, which it says are limited to electricity generation.
Washington says Iran is developing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear power programme. Tehran denies the charge, insisting its nuclear ambitions are purely peaceful.
The preliminary agreement, which still has to be approved by most of the 35 nations on the governing board of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ended nearly a week of discussions on the text, which the diplomat said would set the stage for a November showdown over Iran's nuclear programme.
Another diplomat said the United States had to abandon its demand for an "automatic trigger" deadline forcing the IAEA to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council if it did not meet a number of demands, including suspending enrichment activities.
The diplomat summarised the key points of the resolution, saying it called for the IAEA board to decide in November "whether or not to take appropriate steps" regarding Iran's commitments under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
The diplomat said that this meant that the board would decide whether to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which can impose economic sanctions, for violating the NPT by hiding its uranium enrichment programme for nearly two decades.
The draft text, which diplomats said would likely be adopted on Friday or Saturday with only minor changes, also called on Iran to answer all of the IAEA's outstanding questions about its nuclear programme by the time the board meets again in November.
POSSIBLE NUCLEAR WEAPONS SITE
The IAEA has been inspecting Iran's nuclear programme for two years. While it has uncovered many previously concealed activities and facilities, it has found no clear evidence to back U.S. accusations that Iran is developing atomic weapons.
But allegations surfaced this week that would appear to support the U.S. view. A prominent international expert said on new satellite images showed the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran may be a site for research, testing and production of nuclear weapons.
"This clearly shows the intention to develop weapons," a senior U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
Iran rejected the new allegation.
"This is a new lie, like the last 13 lies based on news reports that have been proved to be lies," Hossein Mousavian, Iran's chief delegate to this week's IAEA meeting told Reuters.
Another senior U.S. official, reflecting the differing views within Washington, was more guarded when asked if Parchin provided definitive information about Iran's intentions, saying: "It's something worth keeping under observation. There are things there that people need to keep their eyes on."