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Nuclear watchdog condemns Iran

Iran says its nuclear facility at Arak, shown in this satellite photo, is for peaceful uses only.
Iran says its nuclear facility at Arak, shown in this satellite photo, is for peaceful uses only.

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United Nations

(CNN) -- The U.N. nuclear watchdog's governing board has approved a resolution condemning Iran's secret nuclear program.

The agency's chief said Wednesday that it sent a "serious and ominous message" to Tehran that future breaches of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would "not be tolerated."

"It clearly strengthens my hand in fulfilling our task in ensuring Iran's program is exclusively for peaceful purposes," said Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The resolution, passed as expected by the IAEA's 35 members during a meeting in Vienna, notes Iran's past breaches and calls on Tehran to cooperate with the U.N. body.

It also welcomes Iran's recent offer "of active cooperation and openness."

Iran has agreed to allow tougher U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities and to suspend its uranium enrichment program, but the U.S. wants to see the words backed by actions.

But the resolution did not go as far as agreeing to Washington's wishes for Iran to be referred to the Security Council.

Instead, the door has been left open for further action by the IAEA if Iran fails to comply with the nuclear agency.

The draft resolution read: "Should any further serious Iranian failures come to light, the [IAEA] board of governors would meet immediately to consider, in light of the circumstances and the advice of the director general, all options at its disposal."

ElBaradei said he was pleased agreement had come through dialogue, and that "work is in progress."

He said the resolution "deplores in the strongest terms" Iran's previous secrecy and warned that if it did not comply "fully and with transparency," action would be taken.

Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranian IAEA representative, said Wednesday: "Certainly we have committed ourselves to sign the additional protocol" and to monitor developments regarding the suspension.

"This resolution is indicative of the efforts of all the members involved with the board and so it's an indication how an international community can come together and work together to resolve an issue," he said.

A Bush official said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell had managed to "toughen" the language used after late night talks with UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw -- who was brokering on behalf of France and Germany.

Washington, backed by Australia and Japan, had wanted sanctions against Iran, but instead settled for more robust inspections.

An IAEA spokeswoman said the process of intense inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities will continue working with the wealth of additional information resulting from the latest report from Iran. Any further breaches could result in a review of Wednesday's decision.

Officials said that between now and the IAEA's board of governors' next meeting in March, the United States and the IAEA would be going through Iran's recent declarations of its nuclear program.

It will also test Iran's promise to sign the additional protocol of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, which calls for more robust inspections.

The resolution calls for another report from ElBaradei by February, but says the board could meet earlier if any Iranian violations come to light.

The U.S. had argued that Iran had breached its nuclear obligations after Tehran admitted to producing small amounts of low-enriched uranium and plutonium in violation of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

But a European bloc, headed by France and Germany, said it felt Iran had complied with many of the international community's requests and should not be sanctioned. The UK brokered the deal between the two sides.

The IAEA said in a 30-page report released last month, that there was "no evidence" that the previously undeclared materials were "related to a nuclear weapons program." (Full Story)

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