The United States, France, Britain and Germany are pushing for the UN nuclear watchdog’s Board of Governors to rebuke Iran for failing to answer longstanding questions on uranium traces at undeclared sites, a draft resolution showed.
Western powers had held off submitting a draft resolution to previous quarterly meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board on this issue to avoid derailing talks. But those talks have not been held since March.
The issue has now come to a head since the IAEA told member states this week that Iran had not given credible answers on the particles found at three mainly old but undeclared sites, although both sides agreed in March to revive discussions aimed at resolving such open issues by now.
The IAEA board “calls upon Iran to act on an urgent basis to fulfil its legal obligations and take up immediately the (IAEA) director general’s offer of further engagement to clarify and resolve all outstanding safeguards issues,” the draft text sent to IAEA member states and seen by Reuters on Wednesday said.
The text, dated Tuesday, did not say which countries drafted it. Two diplomats said it was the United States and the so-called E3, namely France, Britain and Germany.
The draft has yet to be formally submitted for the meeting, which starts on Monday. Board members could adopt it unopposed or put it to a vote, but the draft is likely to be adjusted before it is submitted.
The move is likely to anger Iran, which generally bristles at such resolutions, and that in turn could damage prospects for rescuing the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Indirect talks on that between Iran and the United States are already stalled.
Iran, which insists its nuclear program is peaceful while the West says it is moving closer to being able to build a bomb, would respond to any “unconstructive action” taken at next week's board meeting, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said.
“We will naturally respond in a strong and appropriate manner to any unconstructive action” by the board, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said, according to the ministry's Telegram channel.
“Those using the IAEA Director General’s (Rafael Grossi) report as a political tool and means of pressure against Iran will be solely responsible for the ensuing consequences,” he added.
Iran has deemed Grossi’s report “not fair and unbalanced,” and it accused Israel of interfering in its content.
The western moves come amid Israel’s increased pressure on the IAEA.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett accused Iran on Tuesday of stealing internal UN nuclear watchdog reports under a plan to prepare ways of staving off scrutiny of its nuclear program.
Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Iran secured access to secret IAEA reports almost two decades ago and circulated the documents among top officials who prepared cover stories and falsified a record to conceal suspected past work on nuclear weapons, it quoted Middle East intelligence officials and documents.