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UN nuclear watchdog declares Iran in "non-compliance" with NPT

[JURIST] Delegates to the International Atomic Energy Agency [official website] board of governors meeting [JURIST report] concluding in Vienna Saturday adopted a resolution that for the first time declares Iran in "non-compliance" with safeguards set under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) [text], a move that allows the IAEA to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for the administration of sanctions. Although the resolution passed by the ostensibly wide margin of 22-1, twelve nations abstained, including Russia and China, which have supported Iran's right to produce nuclear energy for civilian purposes. The United States and European Union countries have opposed the program, claiming it is a means to develop nuclear weapons. The single direct vote against the measure was cast by Venezuela, which under the presidency of Hugo Chavez has recently opposed the US on a range of international issues. American diplomats say that the finding of non-compliance requires that Iran be referred to the Security Council, but IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei stressed after the vote that there was still time for diplomacy [IAEA press briefing]. In any event, Iran would not be referred until ElBaradei reports on Iran at the next IAEA board meeting in November. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman in Tehran called the resolution "illegal and unacceptable"; another official dismissed it as a "Western vote" [IRNA report]. Read the full text of the IAEA resolution [PDF] and review the complete IAEA board report [PDF]. AFP has more.

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