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U.S. wants tough resolution on Iran

Move follows IAEA report of clandestine nuclear program

Iran says its nuclear facility at Arak, shown in this satellite photo, is for peaceful uses only.
Iran says its nuclear facility at Arak, shown in this satellite photo, is for peaceful uses only.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States is negotiating with the U.N. nuclear watchdog a resolution that would condemn Iran for past violations of its nuclear obligations, a senior State Department official said Saturday.

A meeting this week of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors failed to adopt a decision on Iran's nuclear situation because of divisions among its members.

Last week, the IAEA released a 30-page report detailing how Iran admitted to producing small amounts of low-enriched uranium and plutonium in violation of the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

At the same time, the IAEA said that there was "no evidence" that those previously undeclared materials were "related to a nuclear weapons program."

The Bush administration wanted the IAEA to declare Iran in violation of its treaty obligations and report Tehran to the U.N. Security Council.

However, the IAEA's 35 governors said Friday that they would decide Wednesday what to do next.

The decision was not a setback for the United States, the senior State Department official said, adding that the Bush administration still thinks the matter should be taken up later at the United Nations.

"It is inaccurate to say the U.S. went into meetings in Vienna last week looking for, and expecting, to get a majority of the IAEA Board of Governors to agree to refer the matter to the U.N. for possible sanctions," the official said.

He said, however, that "it is correct to report that the U.S. is now negotiating with the IAEA Board of Governors to draft a resolution condemning Iran for having a secret nuclear program for 18 years," in violation of the nonproliferation treaty.

In its report, the IAEA says "Iran has now acknowledged that is has been developing, for 18 years, a uranium centrifuge enrichment program, and, for 12 years, a laser enrichment program."

The State Department official said the negotiations could result in a provision saying that if Iran doesn't comply with its obligations in the near future, there "could be some reference to going beyond the IAEA" --in other words, making a report to the Security Council.

Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed Iran's nuclear program with his European Union counterparts in Brussels, Belgium, this week. After those meetings, Powell said a draft resolution sponsored by Britain, France and Germany on Iran's nuclear program -- a draft that does not refer to Iran's non-compliance or to the Security Council -- does not go far enough.

A Western official said a major issue is whether the final resolution on Iran should contain a "trigger" mechanism that would automatically refer the matter to the Security Council if Iran fails to take several steps further cooperating with the IAEA.

The Europeans say they oppose any U.N.-related trigger.

The official also said that Japan, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands are joining the U.S. in supporting tough language pressuring Iran to cooperate more fully, among other things by suspending its uranium enrichment program.

Iran earlier this month promised to take that step and to allow tougher nuclear inspections.

Although Powell said he is "pleased Iran seems to be moving in the right direction now," he said it remains to be seen whether it "is cooperating fully and openly with the international community."

Iran has said its nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes.

Although the IAEA has acknowledged there was no evidence that Tehran's undeclared nuclear activities were related to a weapons program, its report said it was premature to "concluded that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes."

The primary reason cited by the IAEA for its continued skepticism is "Iran's past pattern of concealment."

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