Offer delays referring Iran to council action

Associated Press
Published September 23, 2005

VIENNA - The European Union offered a slight compromise Thursday in its drive to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council, telling Russia, China and other Iranian allies it was prepared only to delay the initiative and not give it up.

Backed by the United States, the Europeans said that if referral opponents did not accept the offer, the EU would push for an immediate vote on Security Council action, diplomats at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

The Europeans and Americans believed they could win a vote at the IAEA. But both China and Russia hold veto power on the Security Council and could block any action there against Iran - including possible sanctions - over its suspect nuclear program, so a delay would give the EU time to seek wider support.

While the new offer backed off threats of forcing a vote on immediate referral, it implicitly would establish the basis for later Security Council involvement by asking the board to find Iran guilty of noncompliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

A previous EU draft resolution, which remained on the table, called on the 35 nations of the IAEA board to report Iran to the United Nations' highest decisionmaking body during this session.

Both drafts formally were EU initiatives but were introduced in close consultation with Washington and had support from Australia, Japan, Canada and others on the IAEA board. More than a third of the nations on the board opposed putting Iran before the Security Council.

Neither text called for Security Council sanctions.

The U.S. government sought for years to take Iran before the Security Council because of Washington's suspicions it is trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge the Iranians deny. Tehran maintains its intentions are to generate electricity.

Still calling for reactors, N. Korea steps back

UNITED NATIONS - A high-level North Korean official said his nation is willing to move "simultaneously" on provisions of this week's agreement to dismantle its nuclear weapons program, in what appears to be a step back from a threat to put conditions on the accord.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Su Hon told the U.N. General Assembly that the United States should provide light-water reactors to North Korea "as soon as possible" to prove its recognition of the country's right to make its own nuclear energy.

But speaking later to reporters at the North Korean mission, he said North Korea's disarmament could occur in parallel and did not insist on receiving the reactors first.

Information from the Los Angeles Times was used in this report.