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Iran vows enrichment after UN referral
Updated: 2006-02-05 08:06

The International Atomic Energy Agency reported Iran to the U.N. Security Council on Saturday over fears it wants to produce nuclear arms, raising the stakes in the diplomatic confrontation and prompting Tehran to threaten immediate retaliation.

Of the board's 35 member nations, 27 voted for referral, reflecting more than two years of intense lobbying by the United States and its allies to enlist broad backing for such a move.

Iran vows enrichment after UN referral
Russia's Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Berdennikov is surrounded by media after the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board meeting on escalating nuclear standoff with Iran, on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006, at Vienna's International Center. [AP]
Washington critics Cuba, Venezuela and Syria voted against referral, and the other five nations abstained.

Still, the near consensus came at a price for Washington. Long an advocate of firm Security Council action against Iran, including possible political and economic sanctions, the Americans had to settle for what is essentially symbolic referral, for now.

After years of opposition, Russia and China backed the referral last week, bringing support from other nations — including India — that had been waiting for their lead. But in return, Moscow and Beijing demanded that the Americans — and France and Britain, the two other veto-wielding Security Council members — agree to let the Iran issue rest until at least March.

That is when the IAEA board meets again to review the agency's investigation of Iran's nuclear program and its compliance with board demands that it renounce uranium enrichment. That process can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material needed to build a warhead.

"The path chosen by Iran's new leaders — threats, concealment, and breaking international agreements and IAEA seals — will not succeed and will not be tolerated by the international community," President Bush said in a statement.

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