UN meeting rebukes Iran’s nuclear defiance

VIENNA (AP) — The 35-nation board of the U.N. nuclear agency overwhelmingly rebuked Iran on Thursday for refusing to heed demands that it take actions to diminish fears it might be seeking atomic arms, a move hailed by the United States as demonstrating international pressure on Tehran to compromise.

Only one country — Cuba — voted against a resolution brought before the International Atomic Energy Agency board and drawn up by the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany. Ecuador, Tunisia and Egypt abstained, while the 31 other nations supported the resolution.

Iran denies any interest in nuclear arms. But it has refused to comply with U.N. and IAEA demands to stop activities that could be used to make such weapons and to allow a probe of suspicions it worked on an arms program.

Robert Wood, the chief U.S delegate to the IAEA, said he hoped he board’s near-solid backing for the resolution would serve as a wake-up call for the Islamic Republic to heed international demands to replace its words with actions that prove it has no interest in nuclear weapons.

“What we are hoping is that this resolution will keep ... diplomatic pressure up and convince Iran that it has really no other option than to comply with its international obligations,” he told reporters.

But the resolution has its limitations, despite the broad support it received.

As 11 others before it, the document cannot be enforced by the IAEA board, and as such, may be shrugged off by Tehran, which already is ignoring U.N. Security Council sanctions and other increasingly harsh international penalties meant to force it to compromise.

Iran appeared unimpressed Thursday. The country’s chief IAEA delegate, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said pressure on his country came from “a few Western countries, especially the United States (which) are trying to change the IAEA into a mere U.N watchdog” trying to penetrate countries’ national security.

Because it is largely symbolic, the document is also unlikely to persuade Israel that diplomacy is working. Israel views a nuclear-armed Iran as a mortal threat, citing Iran’s persistent calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, its development of missiles capable of striking Israel, and Iranian support for Arab militant groups.

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