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Iran Rejects October Deadline
for Nuclear Programs

Paraphrased by:
Steve Waldrop
September 15, 2003

VIENNA, Austria The U.N. atomic agency board has given Iran until the end of October to clear up suspicions about its nuclear programs, setting the stage for possible U.N. Security Council action should it not comply.

In response to the deadline, Iran walked out of the meeting. Iran warned it would not accept any deadline carrying the possibility of future Security Council involvement, implying that such a decision would aggravate nuclear tensions.

The U.S.-backed resolution submitted by Australia, Canada and Japan called on Iran to "provide accelerated cooperation" with agency efforts to clear up Tehran's nuclear question marks.

It also urged Iran to "ensure there are no further failures," in reporting obligations and called on it to "suspend all further uranium enrichment-related activities, including the further introduction of nuclear material" into a facility where IAEA inspectors found traces of weapons-grade enriched uranium.

If the next IAEA meeting in November finds that Iran is in non-compliance with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, it could refer the matter to the UN Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions.

The United States and other Western countries accuse Iran of working on a secret nuclear weapons program. They pushed for a resolution at this meeting finding Iran in noncompliance with the treaty but gave up because of a lack of support among board members.

An IAEA report to the board said traces of highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium were found at an Iranian nuclear facility in southern Natanz and said Iran conducted tests that experts say make little sense unless the country was pursuing nuclear weapons.

Tehran insists its nuclear programs are for generating electricity and claims its equipment was "contaminated" with enriched uranium by a previous owner.

.In August, Iran admitted that it had carried our uranium conversion experiments in the early 1990's, which the IAEA says should have been declared.

Iranian president Mohammad Khatami denied that his country is seeking nuclear weapons. "Our slogan for the atomic bomb and weapons of mass destruction is no, no, no, but for advanced technology including peaceful nuclear technology is yes, yes, yes, " Khatami said.

The Iranian president said that no one can stop his country from pursuing their nuclear goals. He went on to say that "We do not want atomic and nuclear technology for destroying others"

|IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei toured Iran's nuclear facilities in February, including the incomplete plant in Natanz, about 300 miles south of Tehran, where he was said to be dismayed by the advanced stage of a project using hundreds of centrifuges to enrich uranium.

Conference delegates spent most of their time debating the Iran resolution. Tehran warned that too many demands on it could hurt chances of increased cooperation with the IAEA while the United States and its allies were pushing for a resolution with teeth in it.

The resolution said Iran should "provide accelerated cooperation and full transparency" to allow the IAEA to reassure its members that Tehran's nuclear programs are for peaceful purposes.