Friday, February 10, 2006

Middle East:

Annan Urges Iran To Maintain Nuke Freeze
09 February 2006

AP (UNITED NATIONS) – The International Atomic Energy Agency’s board voted on Saturday to send Iran’s nuclear file to the UN Security Council, saying it lacked confidence in Tehran’s nuclear intentions and accused Iran of violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Immediate action against Iran will not be taken, however, because Russia and China insisted that the US, Britain, France and Germany wait until March when the IAEA board meets to review the agency’s investigation of Iran’s nuclear program and compliance with board demands that it renounce uranium enrichment. The IAEA expects the report at the end of the month.

Iran also indicated that it is still interested in a Russian proposal to shift large-scale nuclear enrichment operations to Russian soil in an effort to allay suspicions. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged Iran to “continue to freeze its activities…to allow talks to go forward, to allow them (the Iranians) to pursue the Russian offer, and to allow negotiations with the European three and the Russians to come back to the table.” High-level talks are scheduled to begin in Moscow on February 16. The proposal is backed by the United States and the EU as a way to provide additional oversight of Iran’s use of atomic fuel.

Meanwhile, US Ambassor to the UN John Bolton, the current Security Council president, sent a short letter to IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei on Wednesday acknowledging the receipt of the Iran file. Bolton’s letter, circulated Thursday, noted that the documents include steps required by Iran to ensure the international community it’s nuclear program is peaceful. ElBaradei’s letter said the steps include suspending all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, promptly ratifying the IAEA additional protocol which allows unannounced inspections, and reconsidering construction of a heavy water research reactor.

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