Iran gets off with an IAEA scolding, no fines or sanctions

Friday, November 28, 2003

LONDON Iran has been saved from sanctions by the United Nations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency failed to report Iran to the UN Security Council regarding violations of Teheran's nuclear program. Such a move could have led to Security Council sanctions on the Islamic republic.

Instead, the IAEA governing board concluded that Iran has concealed its uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing program since 1985, Middle East Newsline reported. The board, in a compromise drafted by the European Union, said it strongly deplored the Iranian cover-up, but did not recommend any penalties.

"The board is sending a very serious and ominous message that failures in the future will not be tolerated and that the board will use all options available to it to deal with these failures," IAEA director-general Mohammed El Baradei told a news conference in Vienna on Wednesday.

The United States accepted the IAEA conclusion despite Washington's dismay over the agency's assertion that Iran was not found to have been pursuing a nuclear program. The IAEA said in a report that inspectors found no evidence that Iran had tried to assemble nuclear weapons during its concealment of the uranium enrichment program.

"We feel that this is a strong resolution," White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said.

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