UN watchdog tells Iran to halt nuclear activities

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The Independent Online

The governing board of the UN atomic watchdog agency yesterday told Iran it had two months to freeze all work on uranium enrichment - the technology that can be used for nuclear weapons.

The governing board of the UN atomic watchdog agency yesterday told Iran it had two months to freeze all work on uranium enrichment - the technology that can be used for nuclear weapons.

Iran played down the significance of the resolution passed by a high-level gathering of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Tehran insists its nuclear activities are strictly tailored toward generating electricity. But the chief US representative, Jackie Sanders, warned delegates against "waiting until it's too late" to find out whether Tehran has nuclear arms.

John Bolton, the US Under Secretary of State, said the issue was whether Iran was going to give up nuclear weapons by the November meeting. "The ball is in Iran's court," he said.

A senior State Department official said that unless Tehran complied before the board next meets in November, it would be hauled before the UN Security Council.

Approved unanimously by delegates at the 35-nation board meeting, the resolution said the board "considers it necessary" that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment and related programmes. IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei will review Iran's actions before the November meeting.

It expressed alarm at Iranian plans to convert more than 40 tons of raw uranium into uranium hexafluoride, the gas that turns into enriched uranium when spun in centrifuges.

It also said the board "strongly urges" Iran to meet all demands by the agency in its investigation of the country's nearly two decades of clandestine nuclear activity, including unrestricted access to sites, information and personnel that can shed light on still unanswered questions on whether Tehran was interested in the atom for nuclear weapons.

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