Iran angry at nuclear resolution
Iranian foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki accused the U.S. of being behind the latest move.
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TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran has rejected as "political" and "unjust" a resolution passed by the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency calling for the country to be reported to the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear program, state-run television reported.
"It is a political declaration and it is unjust," said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, according to the report Sunday. The scenario was previously arranged by the United States, he said.
The resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors accuses Iran of failing to comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But it does not specify when Iran would be referred to the Security Council. The board will have to vote a second time to determine that.
The resolution, drafted by Britain, France and Germany and backed by the United States, passed with 22 votes in favor, 12 abstentions and one vote against by Venezuela.
U.S. officials were quick to paint the resolution as a success. The United States was unable to convince the board to refer Iran in the past seven resolutions on the issue.
"This is a significant step forward in the international effort to isolate Iran," Undersecretary for Political Affairs Nick Burns told reporters during a conference call.
He called the vote "a significant setback" for Iran's nuclear program, which Tehran insists is solely for energy production.
Burns said that as late as Friday the United States and its European allies didn't feel it had enough votes to refer Iran.
He added that a "harsh and uncompromising" speech by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the United Nations last Saturday hardened countries' positions and "backfired."
In his speech, and in an exclusive CNN interview, Ahmadinejad made it clear his country will not back down on the nuclear issue.
The text of the IAEA resolution for the first time calls Iran's history of concealing its nuclear program a matter of international peace and security. The resolution also urges Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities and return to negotiations with Britain, France and Germany -- the EU3.
The Europeans and the United States wanted Iran to be referred immediately, but watered down the text to accommodate countries who wanted to give Iran time to reconsider its actions.
Burns said the fact that Russia, China and South Africa -- all of which have disagreed with the United States on how to deal with Iran -- abstained instead of voting against the resolution was proof that the international community was growing increasingly concerned over Iran's nuclear program.
But it is unclear whether Russia and China, both of which have veto power on the U.N. Security Council, would support imposing sanctions once the issue is formally referred.
Mottaki said the abstentions showed that the resolution was ignored by important IAEA members, according to a report by the Fars news agency.
Iran had voluntarily signed on to additional protocols, he said, but no longer feels obliged to abide by those protocols.
Iranian officials previously have said the country will continue talks with Britain, France and Germany and possibly other countries on the issue, and will not resume the uranium enrichment process unless talks break down.
India, which also has energy interests in Iran and had reservations about the U.S.-EU3 strategy, voted in favor of the resolution. U.S. officials acknowledged that in addition to its own concerns over Iran's nuclear program, India was in part trying to preserve its recently improved relations with the United States and placate members of Congress who demanded India's cooperation on the issue.
Burns said the United States had a "patient long-term strategy" to isolate Iran and ratchet up international pressure on the nation to convince it to give up its plans for uranium enrichment.
Although no time frame for Iran's referral was mentioned in the resolution, Robert Joseph, undersecretary for arms control, said a vote at the IAEA board meeting in November was the "next logical step."
CNN State Department Producer Elise Labott and Journalist Shirzad Borzorgmehr contributed to this report
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