U.N. nuclear agency expresses 'serious concern' about Iran nuke activity

The inside of a uranium conversion facility producing unit is seen on March 30, 2005 just outside the city of Isfahan in Iran.

Story highlights

  • Iran says it will cooperate, if it is not a "futile process"
  • IAEA resolution expresses concern about Iran's nuclear activity
  • And it calls on Tehran to cooperate with international nuclear regulators
  • International Atomic Energy Agency will hold its general conference in Vienna next week

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog organization overwhelmingly passed a resolution Thursday stressing concern about Iran's continued nuclear activity while simultaneously urging Tehran to cooperate with international nuclear regulators.

At the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors meeting in Vienna, the vast majority of voting nations agreed with the draft resolution designed by the so-called P5+1: the United States, France, Russia, China, Britain -- the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- and Germany.

Iran steps up uranium production

In the resolution pressuring Iran to comply with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the IAEA notes that while dialogue between Iran and the agency has "intensified," the two sides have been unable to agree on how to proceed.

The resolution says that in the meantime, Iran has not granted regulators access to certain sites, including Parchin, a military site where some observers suspect Iran has been demolishing a facility dedicated to nuclear weapons research.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, said his country would cooperate -- with a condition.

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"We are ready to cooperate with the IAEA without compromising our national security ... provided that we are convinced that efforts are aimed at finalizing Iran's nuclear case, not pursuing a futile process," Soltanieh said, according to Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Iran maintains it is enriching uranium for peaceful purposes.

Iran takes on Iran at global meeting

In a statement, the United States reiterated its call for Iran to grant the IAEA immediate access to the Parchin site, asking, "If Iran has nothing to hide there, why did it begin altering the site as soon as the IAEA asked to visit?"

The IAEA resolution adds that the agency's director general believes Iran's actions will significantly hamper regulators' ability to effectively verify what has been going on at the sites in question.

The resolution stresses the U.N. Security Council's overall goal of a negotiated long-term solution, which the IAEA says could best be achieved through a diplomatic process that restores international confidence that Iran is using its nuclear technology for exclusively peaceful uses.

However, the U.S. statement questioned whether that's a realistic expectation.

"It is clear by Iran's dismissal of the Agency's concerns that, despite Iran's repeated pledges of cooperation and the reiteration in the November 2011 Board of Governors resolution of Iran's obligation to do so, Iran has no intention of responding in good faith," read part of the U.S. statement.

The IAEA's 56th General Conference will meet in Vienna next week, from September 17 through September 21.

More: Canada severs ties with Iran

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