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UNSC Urges Iran to Suspend Uranium Enrichment
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After three weeks of intense negotiations, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a presidential statement Wednesday afternoon calling on Iran to resume suspension of all uranium enrichment-related activities within 30 days.

The statement was passed after the five permanent council members -- the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia --reached agreement on the text earlier in the day ending three weeks of haggling over its contents.

"The ball is now back in Iran's court," French Ambassador to the UN Jean-Marc de la Sabliere told reporters after the council approved the statement.

In the statement, co-sponsored by the EU trio -- Britain, France and Germany, the council noted "with serious concern" that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) "is unable to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran."

The council called upon Iran to take steps required by the IAEA to build confidence in the exclusively peaceful purpose of its nuclear program and to resolve outstanding questions.

It also "underlines ... the particular importance of re-establishing full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, including research and development, to be verified by the IAEA."

The council requests IAEA Director-General Mohamed Elbaradei to deliver in 30 days a new report to the IAEA board of governors and the Security Council on Iran's compliance with IAEA demands, including the suspension of its enrichment activities.

The EU troika originally set a fortnight timeframe for Iran to comply with IAEA requirements, but it had to be extended due to strong opposition from Russia.

During Wednesday's negotiations, they also agreed to drop the language which would have vaguely linked Iran's nuclear program with a threat to international peace and security, in a bid to get Russia on board.

The five key council members have been wrangling over how to respond to the crisis over Iran's nuclear plan after the IAEA reported the matter to the council in early March.

The United States claims that Iran's program is designed to develop nuclear weapons. But Teheran insists that its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity and it is entitled to develop peaceful nuclear technology under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

On Thursday, foreign ministers of the five permanent council members and their German colleague are due to meet in Berlin to discuss the international community's future strategy toward Iran's nuclear issue.

A presidential statement needs consensus among the 15 council members while a resolution requires a minimum of nine votes and no veto from any of the five permanent members.

(Xinhua News Agency March 30, 2006)

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