West to seek UN action on Iranian bomb threat

BRITAIN and its allies will seek a tough new resolution at the United Nations next week after a report from the world�s nuclear watchdog said that Iran was accelerating its uranium enrichment programme.
Britain, acting in concert with France, Germany and the United States, will ask the 15-nation Security Council to pass a mandatory resolution declaring Iran�s nuclear programme a threat to international peace and security and ordering it to suspend its enrichment work.

But even as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delivered its report, President Ahmadinejad made clear that Iran would not back down. He told a rally that �we do not give a damn about such resolutions� and said that the Islamic republic could soon become a superpower. �Enemies think that by threatening us . . . they can dissuade our country from obstaining nuclear technology,� he said. �We will not back down.�

The British move � a prelude to possible sanctions � follows Iran�s refusal to comply with the UN�s 30-day deadline for freezing its enrichment programme that expired yesterday. The Vienna-based IAEA reported that Iran had ignored the Security Council�s demands and was stepping up its enrichment work.

Tests confirmed that Iran�s newly built 164-centrifuge cascade had indeed succeeded in enriching uranium to 3.6 per cent, as Iran claimed this month. The agency said that Iran was building two additional 164-machine cascades.

The IAEA report also highlighted Iran�s failure to hand over a copy of a 15-page document dealing with the production and casting of uranium metal into hemispheres � a process used almost exclusively in building nuclear bombs.

The agency said that it had asked for clarification of Mr Ahmadinejad�s assertion that Iran was �presently conducting research� with advanced P2 centrifuges, which can enrich uranium up to four times faster than the P1 machines that Tehran is known to possess.

�Gaps remain in the agency�s knowledge with respect to the scope and content of Iran�s centrifuge programme,� the IAEA report said. �Because of this, and other gaps in the agency�s knowledge, including the role of the military in Iran�s nuclear programme, the agency is unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of un- declared nuclear material and activities in Iran.�

President Bush said that Iran�s intransigence was �not acceptable� but insisted that the US still wanted to resolve the issue through peaceful and diplomatic means.

China and Russia both oppose making mandatory the demand that Iran halt all enrichment-related activities, which they see as a prelude to sanctions

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