Pressure mounts on Iran at ElBaradei’s final IAEA board meeting (Lead)

Vienna, Nov 26 (DPA) International pressure mounted on Iran Thursday at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna at which six world powers sought a vote on a resolution censuring Tehran for secretly building a new nuclear site.

As the 12-year tenure of IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei comes to a close Monday, the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme showed no sign of abating and the country continued to refuse uncovering the truth about alleged nuclear weapons projects.

“We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us,” ElBaradei told the IAEA’s Board of Governors.

But the focus of the resolution drafted by the permanent UN Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, as well as Germany, was Iran’s new enrichment plant at Fordu.

A Western diplomat said around 20 of the 35 countries on the board are supporting the text that expresses “serious concern” about the site near the city of Qom, which Tehran informed the IAEA about only in September, at least two years after construction began.

The text said that by building the new Fordu enrichment site near Qom, Iran was “in breach of its obligation to suspend all enrichment related activities” as decided by the Security Council, according to a draft obtained by DPA.

If the resolution is adopted, with a vote likely on Friday, it will be transmitted to the Security Council.

“It is a political signal,” a European diplomat said, referring to statements from the US and Western countries that they would start mulling further sanctions in January if Tehran did not come around in the nuclear stand-off.

Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh warned that the agency’s inspections would be limited to a minimum if a resolution was passed, according to a report by the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Patience among world powers and at the IAEA is also running out as Iran had still not formally responded to a proposed multinational deal aimed at reducing tensions over the country’s nuclear programme.

ElBaradei said he was “disappointed” that Tehran had not responded to his draft agreement, under which Iran would ship out most of its stock of low-enriched uranium, in return for nuclear fuel made in Russia and France which would be used for a medical-purpose reactor in Tehran.

From December, former Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano is to succeed ElBaradei.