Iran Nuclear Debate Moves to U.N. Security Council
SCOTT SIMON, host:
This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. The international stand-off over Iran's nuclear program has intensified. The International Atomic Energy Agency has referred Iran to the United Nations Security Council, which may impose sanctions on that country. The IAEA resolution passed earlier today says the group lacks confidence that Iran is developing nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and calls on that nation to halt uranium enrichment. NPR's Rob Gifford is outside the IAEA conference hall in Vienna. Rob, thanks for being with us.
ROB GIFFORD reporting:
SIMON: And tell us more about that resolution that just passed, please.
GIFFORD: Well, yes, as you say, it's calling on Iran to stop enriching uranium. There are various other technicalities that it calls on the Tehran government to do, for instance giving more access to the IAEA within Iran itself. But of course the main thrust of it is to actually report the Tehran government to the UN Security Council, with one important phrase, allowing for a month before that report is actually made. We're going to have a sort of month cooling off period when probably there will be some more diplomatic efforts, but essentially the thing has passed, the motion has passed this morning by 27 votes to three, with five abstentions.
SIMON: Who were the three that voted against it?
GIFFORD: The three that voted against were Cuba, Venezuela and Syria, and I think people were probably expecting those three to vote against it. The more difficult votes for the U.S. and the E.U. to garner were in the middle ground. Five abstained, Algeria, Libya, Indonesia, Belarus and South Africa. And there was a last minute compromise this morning in the wording of there solution because the Egyptians wanted to include a phrase relating to, indirectly relating to Israel's nuclear program, that the U.S. and the E.U. would commit to some kind of nuclear weapons free zone within the Middle East. And I understand that since they got that put in, the Egyptians voted yes, rather than abstaining.
SIMON: I'm wondering if you've been able to talk to anybody who was involved in the deliberations, or at least on the periphery, and give us some idea of what they hope this warning accomplishes.
GIFFORD: Well, in fact, three of the ambassadors came out after, straight afterwards and gave news conferences, the American, British and the French ambassadors. And of course, they were all welcoming the move. The U.S. ambassador said Iran should listen to the world rather than threaten it. The Iranian delegation then came out and, not surprisingly, they were quite belligerent too. They said that this vote was politically motivated, there was no legal or technical grounds for it, and they announced that they were suspending voluntary cooperation with the IAEA as of this vote.
SIMON: Our man in Vienna, Rob Gifford, this morning speaking from the deliberations of the IAEA over Iran's nuclear program. Thanks very much for being with us, Rob.
GIFFORD: Thanks for having me, Scott.
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