VIENNA, Austria — The European Union has dropped a call to have Iran referred immediately to the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear activities in hopes of enlisting Russia’s support for confronting Tehran, diplomats said Friday.
“There is no mention of the Security Council” being called on to get involved immediately in an EU resolution being prepared for a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors, a diplomat said.
That would represent a reversal from earlier EU draft resolutions containing a call to report Iran immediately to the top U.N. decision-making body, where it could face possible sanctions.
It was not immediately clear, however, if the new draft urges the council to get involved at a later time, with one diplomat saying that was the case and another telling The Associated Press there was only an allusion to the council.
The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issues being discussed at the IAEA’s 35-nation board of governors’ meeting.
Earlier, diplomats and European officials accredited to the IAEA meeting — after warning for weeks that Iran would be referred to the council unless it stopped uranium conversion — said the Europeans were reluctantly considering settling for less.
“Their text is being reworked,” an official said, adding that the Europeans were now working on a “consensual text” in the hope of getting support from Russia.
Asked if any new EU text might drop any direct or strong but indirect reference to Security Council referral in hopes of getting Moscow aboard, the official said: “It’s possible.”
Reflecting EU indecision, another European official suggested the EU had not yet decided whether to compromise or stick with its push for a strongly worded resolution that would call for referral either directly, or in indirect but unmistakably strong language.
Like the diplomats, the officials spoke because of the sensitivity of the issues being discussed at the board meeting.
The Security Council could impose sanctions if it determines that Iran violated the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but veto-carrying council members Russia and China are certain to vote against such action.
Iran insists its nuclear activities have not violated the treaty.
Javod Vaidi, a member of the Iranian delegation, urged the Americans and Europeans to back down on their push for Security Council action.
“This is very dangerous to go in the way of confrontation,” he said.
Firm EU resolve
Until Thursday, diplomats said the Europeans were firm in their push for a resolution at the IAEA meeting that would implicitly establish the board’s right to report Iran to the council at a later session or ask for immediate referral.
China is considered immovable in its opposition to any Security Council involvement, but in recent days, European diplomats said they hoped to obtain Moscow’s support, either now or later.
But Andrei Karasev, a member of the Russian mission to the IAEA, said his country remained opposed.
“We are ready to work on the resolution ... which provides I’d say (a) mutually acceptable decision,” he said, suggesting that negotiations on revising the EU text were under way.
For years, the Europeans have avoided U.S. demands for support in Washington’s push to haul Iran before the Security Council. But they reluctantly swung behind the United States last month after Tehran effectively walked away from talks with Britain, France and Germany that were meant to reduce suspicions about its nuclear aims and began uranium conversion — a prelude to enrichment, which can make the fissile core for nuclear warheads or generate fuel for energy.
More than a third of IAEA board members oppose Security Council referral — an additional dilemma for the Europeans, because the board normally makes decisions by consensus.
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