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  • The Scriptorium

    2/2/2006

    Iran Threatens Full-Scale Enrichment Work

    Filed under: — Jennifer Rast @ 5:56 pm

    Threatening to take a country before the U.N. really gets results. Iran is so scared of receiving a strongly worded letter that they’re going to begin full-scale enrichment of uranium for their nuclear weapons program. I’m so glad we have the Security Council to take care of these dangerous matters for us.

    Iran threatened to retaliate Thursday in the face of almost certain referral to the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear activities, and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said the dispute was “reaching a critical phase.”

    Ahead of a decision by the IAEA’s 35-nation board, U.S. and European delegates turned to behind-the-scenes diplomacy to build the broadest possible support for reporting Iran to the council over concerns it is seeking nuclear weapons.

    Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, in a letter made available to the AP, warned IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei that referral would leave Iran no choice but “to suspend all the voluntary measures and extra cooperation” with the IAEA _ shorthand for reducing IAEA monitoring to a minimum.

    Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and a few other nations at odds with Washington remained opposed to referral. India was said to be leaning toward supporting referral.

    Diplomats accredited to the IAEA meeting said backing for Iran had shrunk among the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s board since Russia and China swung their support behind referral at an overnight meeting with the United States, France and Britain _ the other three permanent council members _ that started Monday.

    “There’s a solid majority in favor of reporting,” Gregory L. Schulte, the chief U.S. delegate to the IAEA, told The Associated Press. “There’s even a more solid majority after Monday.”

    State Department spokesman Sean McCormack the number of nations expected to vote against referral were in the “low to single digits.”

    Iran remained defiant. Larijani told ElBaradei that his country would severely curtail agency inspections and resume uranium enrichment if reported to the council.

    Furthermore, “all the peaceful nuclear activities being under voluntary suspension would be resumed without any restriction,” said the letter, suggesting a resumption of work on full-scale uranium enrichment _ a possible pathway to nuclear arms.

    Iran has made such threats before. What was significant this time, however, was that the warnings were in the form of a formal notification to the head of the IAEA.

    As Thursday’s meeting adjourned, U.S. and European diplomats intensified efforts to widen support for a European draft resolution calling for Iran to be brought before the council.

    ElBaradei said there was a “window of opportunity” to defuse the crisis, stressing that even if the issue is referred, the Security Council would not take up the issue before next month.

    “We are reaching a critical phase but it is not a crisis,” he said.

    Iran’s pursuit of WMD isn’t a crisis, it’s just a phase. So, we’ll just wait a month and see if it turns into a crisis before we do anything. I feel so much safer, now.

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