Tuesday, February 7, 2006
Shortly after ending its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the government of Iran has now ordered the IAEA to discontinue some of its surveillance of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Tehran has also asked the agency to remove any and all signage from their nuclear sites by the end of next week.
This is in response to the Saturday resolution by the IAEA to report Iran to the United Nations Security Council, which was made without waiting for the director of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, chairman of the IAEA, to finish preparing a report on Iran’s civilian (and allegedly military) nuclear programs for the regular IAEA meeting scheduled for March 6. ElBaradei had given Iran until March to answer IAEA questions. By a vote of 27 to three (with five abstentions), and without the information in ElBaradei’s report planned for March 2006, the IAEA recommended that the matter of the Iranian nuclear program be brought before the Security Council.
The recommendation claims that there are serious concerns about Iranian nuclear aims, and the agency does not have confidence that the program is intended solely for civilian or other non-military use. Although the meeting was taken without waiting for ElBaradei’s March report, the recommendation requests ElBaradei to make his report anyway, including a list of “steps Iran needs to take to dispel suspicions about its nuclear ambitions” by March 6.
The IAEA’s resolution calls for Iran to reinstate a freeze on its nuclear programs, consider ending construction of a plutonium-producing heavy water reactor, and to continue allowing the IAEA’s purposes and actions in Iran. However, the council will not implement any further action until ElBaradei makes his full report on March 6.
ElBaradei also reported to the IAEA Monday that Iran would also demand a reduction in the amount of facilities inspections from the agency, and that they would discontinue their agreement to the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if the agency reported Iran to the Security Council. This protocol entitles the IAEA to hold unannounced inspections of facilities, increased surveillance capability, and placing IAEA seals on nuclear equipment.
Other diplomatic ventures are being planned. On February 16, Iranian officials will meet with the Russian government in Moscow to discuss the possibility of Russia enriching uranium for export to Iran in exchange for a halting of its nuclear enrichment program. And Wang Guangya, China’s ambassador to the UN, said Monday that “Even with the adoption of this IAEA resolution, it is the belief of most of the members there that a diplomatic solution is the way out within the framework of the IAEA.”