Iran scored a key diplomatic success Monday by fending off the threat of being reported to the United Nations Security Council over its nuclear program.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, passed a resolution approving Iran's week-old suspension of sensitive nuclear activities as part of a deal with the European Union, a senior diplomat said.
Crucially, and in line with Iranian demands, the resolution described the freeze as a voluntary, confidence-building measure and not a legally binding commitment.
Its passage meant that Teheran, which denies seeking the bomb, had achieved its immediate objective of avoiding being hauled before the Security Council for possible sanctions.
The dispute focused on Teheran's request to exempt some 20 centrifuges from the November 14 agreement in order to continue research with them.
Centrifuges are devices that spin at supersonic speeds to enrich, or purify, uranium for use as fuel in nuclear reactors.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Iran had now withdrawn the exemption request, and IAEA inspectors yesterday installed surveillance cameras to monitor the centrifuges.
"This is clearly a positive step in the right direction. It would help mitigate international concern about the nature of Iran's program, and over time should help to build confidence... I call naturally on Iran to sustain that suspension," he said.
(China Daily November 30, 2004)