Diplomats at a 35-nation meeting of International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) Wednesday in effect denied Iran's request for
technical help in building a plutonium-producing reactor in
After the meeting, two diplomats said a committee of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) would forward a summary
of its three days of deliberations to today's board meeting. The
summary would note that "no decision was taken" on Teheran's call
for aid for its Arak reactor.
That full meeting is then likely to approve the committee note,
in effect denying IAEA's aid for now.
The two diplomats from countries on opposing sides of the issue
had different interpretations of the decision, reflecting the depth
of the dispute. They both demanded anonymity since not authorized
to discuss the issue with the media.
An European diplomat said the tentative agreement effectively
meant that Iran's request was turned down. Another diplomat, from a
developing nation, said it meant that the issue remained on the
table and could be revisited at a future meeting. "It certainly is
not denied," he pointed out.
While the argument focused on technicalities, this reflected the
meeting's charged atmosphere. Technical aid requests are normally
approved without discussion but since the first committee meeting
on Monday, suspicions on Iran's real projects led to diplomatic
tussling on the Arak request, which would produce enough plutonium
for two bombs a year, once completed.
Past IAEA resolutions have urged Iran to stop building the Arak
reactor. While Iran says it needs the reactor to produce
radioactive isotopes for medical purposes, the United States and
its allies fear its latent weapons-making capacity.
Still, developing countries, the key recipients of IAEA
technical help, are worried that any project being denied aid would
set a dangerous precedent for refusing support.
Arak is one of seven projects submitted by Iran. Most, if not
all, of the 35 nations had no trouble with approving Iran's request
for help with the six others, far less contentious projects, said
The United States was a chief supporter of that approach. "There
was a certain pragmatism that we weren't going to win on the other
ones," a US official said when asked why Washington did not push
for a possible ban on all Iranian aid requests.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on
Wednesday that his country would press ahead with its nuclear
program despite the West's pressure, the official IRNA new agency
"We will first have to break the horn of the big head so that
justice can be done," Ahmadinejad said, referring to Western
pressure over Iran's nuclear dispute. In Farsi, to "break the horn
of the big head" is an expression for blunting arrogant
He said that he believed people who opposed the Arak program
would fail to force Iran to abandon it, saying "enemies express
scattered words, they pose and humiliate but surely they will not
(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency November 23, 2006)