UN nuclear agency still divided over Iran

Updated on Jan 23, 2006 10:18 AM IST

Europe and the US, meanwhile, are struggling to get Russia and China on board to crack down on Iran at a UN meeting next month.

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None | ByAgence France-Presse, Vienna

Europe and the United States are struggling to get Russia and China on board to crack down on Iran at a UN meeting next month over a nuclear program the West fears hides secret atomic weapons work, diplomats said on Sunday.

While some move by the International Atomic Energy Agency seems certain when the UN watchdog agency meets here February 2, it remains unclear how much of a deadline it will be for Iran.

A diplomat close to the IAEA said key Iranian trade partner Russia wanted to split the action into two parts, "with a nominal referral in February but giving Iran one month to deliver on demands to suspend nuclear fuel work and to cooperate" with IAEA inspections.

The IAEA is to hold another meeting, a regularly scheduled one, on March 6.

A Western diplomat said European Union negotiators Britain, France and Germany as well as the United States "rejected this idea outright," even if other diplomats said a compromise in the Russian direction was possible.

"The United States doesn't want to wait anymore," said a non-aligned diplomat.

The EU negotiating trio and the United States, "are trying to sell" China and Russia on a tough resolution at the IAEA board of governors meeting to send Iran before the Security Council for possible sanctions, said a second Western diplomat, who like others interviewed asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

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