European powers began circulating a draft resolution yesterday that asks the UN nuclear watchdog to report Iran to the Security Council
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BERLIN: European powers began circulating a draft resolution yesterday that asks the UN nuclear watchdog to report Iran to the Security Council.
Britain, France and Germany want the IAEA's 35-nation board to meet on February 2-3 to vote on a draft resolution that would refer Iran to the Security Council, ratcheting up diplomatic pressure on Teheran and opening the door to eventual sanctions.
US and European officials say a majority on the IAEA board favours referral, but they want as much support as they can muster from countries like Russia, China and other sceptics.
An EU diplomat said the draft text asks Iran "to help the (IAEA) clarify questions regarding possible nuclear weapons activities" and calls on IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei "to transmit a copy of this resolution to the Security Council."
Some officials have said they believe simply hauling Iran to the Security Council for censure could prompt a change of heart in Teheran.
Any move to use full-scale sanctions against Iran, let alone military action, could send world oil prices rocketing and reopen some of the international rifts opened by the Iraq War.
For now, European powers are working closely with Washington on tackling Iran's nuclear ambitions, their unity reinforced by Teheran's rebuffs to their diplomatic efforts and by Ahmadinejad's calls for the destruction of Israel.
Russia and China, veto-wielding members of the Security Council, share some of the West's concerns, but both may oppose UN sanctions.
The chief of France's defence staff said the idea of Iran possessing a nuclear weapon was "a real nightmare" but added that a negotiated solution remained possible and that any hasty resort to military action would be "completely mad."
"That would create a dreadful drama in the Middle East," General Henri Bentegeat told Europe 1 radio. "Maybe one day we will get to that point. But today it is exclusively the diplomats who are having their say."
The EU draft asks IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei to keep up inspections to try to provide "credible assurances regarding the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities in Iran."