Last Updated: Fri Nov 18, 2011 22:41 pm (KSA) 19:41 pm (GMT)

IAEA rebukes Iran over nukes; U.S. hails resolution, calls for more pressure on Tehran

Tehran is facing international pressure after a U.N. report said it appeared to have worked on designing an atom bomb. (Illustration by Amarjit Sidhu)
Tehran is facing international pressure after a U.N. report said it appeared to have worked on designing an atom bomb. (Illustration by Amarjit Sidhu)

Governors of the U.N. nuclear watchdog approved a resolution on Friday voicing “increasing concern” about Iran’s atomic work, cranking up international pressure on Tehran after a U.N. report said it appeared to have worked on designing an atom bomb.

The 35-nation policy-making body of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted the text by a clear majority, with 32 states voting for and 2 against, according to Reuters.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA, said the resolution will only strengthen Tehran’s determination to press on with its disputed activities.

Soltanieh said the Islamic state would not halt uranium enrichment even for “a second,” making clear his country would not back down in the dispute with major powers.

Soltanieh spoke to reporters shortly after the IAEA board adopted the resolution. He said that Iran will not take part in rare IAEA-hosted talks next week for countries in the Middle East to discuss efforts to free the world of nuclear weapons.

U.S. welcomes resolution

The White House welcomed the resolution and said it will increase pressure on Tehran to abandon its drive for an atomic bomb.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the International Atomic Energy Agency resolution of increasing concern about Iran’s atomic work had exposed “the hollowness of Iran's claims” that its nuclear program was for purely civilian purposes.

“The United States will continue this pressure until Iran chooses to depart from its current path of international isolation, both in concert with our partners as well as unilaterally,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.N. report supplied “the clearest confirmation of what the United States has long believed -- that, despite its constant denials, Iran’s government has pursued technologies and equipment that could only be applied to a nuclear weapons program.”

“In the coming weeks, we will work with our international partners to increase the pressure on Iran’s government until it decides to meet its international obligations,” Clinton added in a statement, according to AFP.

Putting Iran’s nuclear scientists at risk

Earlier on Friday, Tehran accused Yukiya Amano, the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog, of putting Iran’s nuclear scientists at risk of assassination by “terrorists” and U.S. and Israeli agents.

“The international community is ... witnessing (the) ugly phenomenon of assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists and experts by terrorist groups,” Soltanieh told Amano by letter.

“The release of the names of Iranian nuclear scientists.. (by the IAEA) has made them targets for assassination by terrorist groups as well Israeli regime and United States of America intelligence services,” Soltanieh said.

The Nov. 16 letter, an English version of which was made available by the Iranian diplomatic mission in Vienna, said the names were leaked in the annex to the IAEA’s recent damning report on Iran’s nuclear program.

Soltanieh said releasing the names, which he said have also appeared in U.S. and European Union sanctions lists, was contrary to IAEA rules and that he reserved the right to take “appropriate legal measures.”

Amano is “accountable for any security threat against the lives of my fellow citizens referred to by you and their families as well as sabotage against locations indicated on your report based on baseless allegations.”

Last week’s IAEA report came the closest yet to accusing Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

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