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UN watchdog set to censure Iran

The 35-nation board of the UN nuclear watchdog looked set on Friday to censure Iran over findings that it has sought to develop atom bombs after the six big powers overcame divisions on how to best deal with a defiant Tehran.

world Updated: Nov 19, 2011 02:00 IST

The 35-nation board of the UN nuclear watchdog looked set on Friday to censure Iran over findings that it has sought to develop atom bombs after the six big powers overcame divisions on how to best deal with a defiant Tehran.

Iran showed no sign of backing down in the protracted dispute over its atomic activities threatening to take legal action against the International Atomic Energy Agency for issuing a hard-hitting report about Tehran's nuclear programme.

Last week s IAEA report presented a stash of intelligence indicating that Iran has undertaken research and experiments geared to developing a nuclear weapons capability. It has stoked tensions in the Middle East and redoubled calls in Western capitals for stiffer sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

Iran says it is enriching uranium only as fuel for nuclear power plants not nuclear weapons. It has dismissed the details in the IAEA report obtained mainly from Western spy agencies as fabricated and accusing the IAEA of a pro-Western slant.

Iran's ambassador to the Vienna-based IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh accused the agency of releasing the report early to the United States, Britain and other countries. Some of its contents were leaked to Western media before release on November 8.

"This is a clear violation of the (IAEA) staff regulation the oath taken by the Director General upon his assumption of the post as well as the spirit and letter of the Statute of the IAEA since all member states have to be treated equally " he said in a letter to IAEA chief Yukiya Amano.

"My government reserves its legitimate rights ... to seek damages monetary and otherwise from the IAEA for any injury to persons and damages to property in my country that may arise from your unjustified unfair and politically motivated reports and decisions that may be taken on the basis of such reports."

He appeared to be hinting at speculation that Israel which sees Iran s nuclear programme as an existential threat might launch pre-emptive attacks on Iranian atomic sites in the absence of diplomatic negotiations to resolve the dispute.

Soltanieh s letter dated Nov. 16 was distributed to media in Vienna on Friday shortly before the governing board of the IAEA was due to start a debate on a draft resolution on Iran.

Powers voice AN 'increasing concern'
The six powers spearheading diplomacy on Iran - the US Russia China France Britain and Germany - this week ironed out a joint resolution in intense talks and submitted it to the board a mix of industrialised and developing countries.

The fact that it was backed by all six big powers virtually guaranteed it would win wide support in a vote expected later on Friday.