Europe, Russia, China give Tehran another 30 days


MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Pyotr Goncharov.) - The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has wisely decided to shift the problem of the Iranian nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council.

The governors did not adopt a final resolution, which means that the dossier would not be sent to the UN immediately. Instead, the Security Council will receive a report by the IAEA director general, just as the governors had decided to do at their emergency session on February 4. The time given to Tehran to stop its uranium enrichment project has run out, and the director general's report has been sent to New York.

It seemed shortly before the Board session on the Iranian nuclear program that the IAEA did not know what to do with the dossier. The United States was all for sending it to the UN Security Council but did not know what to do with it there. John Bolton, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, who had addressed the Washington conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a special interest group that lobbies the United States government on behalf of Israeli-American interests, said the Bush administration would not insist on an emergency hearing of the issue of economic sanctions against Iran in the Security Council.

However, it was clear that Russia, which wants to remain the exclusive negotiator at the talks with Tehran, would not forego its nuclear, energy and military technical interests in relations with Iran. And for China Iran is the main provider of hydrocarbons.

The goal of Moscow and Beijing is to convince the IAEA to keep the Iranian dossier for at least a month, so that they would have the time to convince the majority of governors that Iran has not rejected Russia's initiative of enriching uranium for the Iranian nuclear power plants in Russia. If Iran decides to reopen discussions and resumes its uranium enrichment and research moratorium, the possibility of sending the dossier to the UN would be taken off the agenda, at least for some time.

However, Iran decided to demonstrate its resolve to go the whole way, using well-worn rhetoric to defend its right to create a full nuclear cycle. Iran might revise its attitude to the IAEA if the world's powers use the organization as an instrument of political pressure, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a government sitting Monday. This means that if the dossier is sent to the UN, Tehran will deny access its nuclear facilities to IAEA inspectors and announce the beginning of commercial uranium enrichment.

What has happened in Vienna? France, Germany and Britain demonstrated readiness for compromise with Iran and also refused to support the American position unconditionally.

The Washington Post reported before the session that American diplomats who advocated the transfer of the dossier to the UN had drafted a relevant statement by the Security Council. The document allegedly gave Iran 30 days to resume the moratorium and start cooperating with IAEA inspectors. Iran's refusal to comply with these demands would provoke harsh diplomatic measures, including economic and political sanctions.

However, Germany and Britain have been recently talking about the need to keep the Iranian dossier in the IAEA. It appears that their stand, as well as the position of Russia and China, resulted in the IAEA decision to send only ElBaradei's report to the UN.

At the same time, Tehran has been given 30 days to resume the moratorium and start cooperating with the IAEA, or else the dossier would be sent to the UN Security Council, which may mean the adoption of the American scenario.

According to Nicholas Burns, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, said Washington regarded the dispatch of ElBaradei's report to the UN Security Council as the beginning of a new diplomatic stage - actions within the framework of the UN Security Council. He said the council would discuss the statement on behalf of its chairman or a resolution based on Article 7 of the UN Charter. If after that Iran does not act on the recommendations of the international community, we will have to discuss possible pinpoint sanctions, which a number of countries are pondering, Burns said.

It appears that Tehran has taken up the challenge. "At present, the confidence of the Iranian people for international institutes has weakened. The time has come to test their strength," Ahmadinejad said Wednesday. If their legitimate rights are neglected, "the people of Iran will stop listening to the haughty words of the international community."

The UN Security Council should also take into account Iran's readiness to escalate tensions around its nuclear program (provided Tehran is not bluffing), as well as the refusal of the European Trio to support Washington's stand on the issue. Therefore, the UN Security Council will most probably demand that Iran resume cooperation with the IAEA in order to regain the trust of the international community.

In short, the solution of the Iranian nuclear problems has been postponed again.

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