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    IAEA board set to consider draft resolution on Iran

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    The UN nuclear watchdog will consider a draft resolution condemning Tehran over its refusal to stop uranium enrichment during a two-day meeting which opens on Thursday in Vienna.

    VIENNA, November 26 (RIA Novosti) - The UN nuclear watchdog will consider a draft resolution condemning Tehran over its refusal to stop uranium enrichment during a two-day meeting which opens on Thursday in Vienna.

    The draft document was drawn up by Germany and supported by five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - following a recent IAEA report suggesting that Iran's tardiness in admitting to a second uranium enrichment site raises concerns that it may be hiding further information on its nuclear activities.

    German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle expressed hope on Wednesday during a joint news conference with IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei "for broad support [of the draft resolution] at the board of governors meeting which begins tomorrow [on Thursday]."

    Iran admitted to the existence of an enrichment site near the city of Qom in September, and IAEA inspectors who were granted access to the facility the following month said construction was at an advanced stage.

    According to the IAEA report, Iran told the UN nuclear watchdog that it had begun building the facility in 2007, but inspectors believe that the project began in 2002, was paused in 2004, and resumed in 2006.

    The United States and other Western nations fear Iran's nuclear program could be a cover for weapons production. Tehran says it needs nuclear technology to produce electricity and has so far refused to stop uranium enrichment despite three sets of UN sanctions imposed earlier on the Islamic Republic.

    Reflecting the sense of frustration over Tehran's refusal to compromise with the rest of the world on this sensitive subject, the German foreign minister said on Wednesday:

    "We are open to dialogue with Iran and we want to find a solution through dialogue but at the same time ... our patience is not going to last forever."

    Iran has yet to give an official answer to a UN-brokered deal designed to allay concerns over its nuclear program which involves sending its enriched uranium to third countries for processing.

    Under the original deal, drawn up at October talks in Vienna between Iran, the UN, the U.S., Russia and France, the Islamic Republic was supposed to ship out its low-enriched uranium to Russia, where it would be enriched and then sent to France to prepare it for use in an Iranian reactor.

    However, Iran refused to send its stockpile to France and Russia, and the U.S. proposed allowing Tehran to send its uranium to any of several nations, including Turkey. Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said the country was ready to store Iran's enriched uranium stockpile.

    Tehran insists it would consider a simultaneous swap of its nuclear fuel for other uranium, but the exchange would have to take place on its territory.

    Other issues to be discussed by the IAEA board in the next two days include nuclear activities in Syria and North Korea, and a Russian proposal on setting up a nuclear fuel bank.

     

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