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Security Council to vote tomorrow on Iran’s nuclear programme

Security Council to vote tomorrow on Iran’s nuclear programme

Security Council President Amb. Dumisani Kumalo
The Security Council is set to vote tomorrow afternoon regarding possible further sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear programme, the president of the 15-member body said today, adding that the Iranian Foreign Minister will attend the discussions in New York.

Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo of South Africa, which holds the rotating presidency this month, made his remarks after the Council was briefed by the head of the UN committee monitoring the previous sanctions that were imposed on Tehran in December last year.

“The voting is at 3 p.m. The President of Iran is unable to come but the Foreign Minister will be here, arriving tomorrow around midday I’m told… All members of the Council, including South Africa, reiterated our desire to have the Security Council act together and send one message. So we are all working towards this goal,” Ambassador Kumalo told reporters.

Iran insists its programme is purely for energy production but other countries maintain it is for making weapons, and three months ago the Council imposed limited sanctions and called on Tehran to suspend all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.

Earlier this month, the UN atomic watchdog agency suspended 22 technical aid projects in Iran in conformity with the sanctions. The decision by the Board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) followed a report by Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei that Tehran had continued uranium enrichment despite the Council’s call that it suspend such activities.

In his report Mr. ElBaradei said that because of the lack of “the necessary level of transparency and cooperation” from Iran, the IAEA could not provide assurances that the Iranian programme was solely for peaceful purposes and stressed that the issue was in a class of its own because of Tehran’s 20 years of undeclared activities in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

It was the discovery in 2003 of Iran’s hidden activities that gave rise to the current dispute and Mr. ElBaradei stressed that “the IAEA’s confidence about the nature of Iran’s programme has been shaken because of two decades of undeclared activities.”

Mr. ElBaradei has suggested a “time-out” to allow for talks, with Iran suspending uranium enrichment and the international community suspending sanctions.