IAEA Board to Vote on Iran Nuclear Issue Thursday

The United States says it expects a resolution referring Iran to the United Nations Security Council will pass when the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) board of governors meets Thursday in Vienna.

The United States and other permanent members of the Security Council agreed earlier this week in London to refer the issue of Iran's nuclear program to the council. They agreed to delay seeking any Security Council action until at least the next meeting of the IAEA board of governors on March 6, in order to win Russian and Chinese support for the resolution. IAEA director Mohamed ElBaradei is expected to deliver a report on Iran at that time.

At a news briefing Wednesday, State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States expects that the resolution will pass, sending a very clear signal to Iran.

"The message that is going to be very clearly sent to Iran is that they have crossed the line," he said. "They should come back in line with their Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations, come back in line with the commitments they have made with their negotiation partners -- the EU 3 [Britain, France and Germany] -- and come back in line in terms of cooperation with the IAEA."

Iran has remained defiant in the face of international pressure, threatening to resume sensitive nuclear fuel cycle work and block international inspections of its nuclear facilities if it is hauled before the Security Council. Spokesman McCormack said the number of questions about Iran's nuclear program is increasing, not decreasing, and he warned that the Iranian regime's actions are further isolating its people from the international community.

"The rest of the world is very concerned that Iran continues to pursue development of nuclear weapons," he added. "We would call on the Iranian regime to suspend their activities related to enrichment, and return back in a serious manner to the international community on this issue."

The text of the resolution on Iran submitted to the IAEA board and leaked to news agencies, calls on Iran to restore confidence in its intentions by re-suspending all nuclear fuel research and uranium enrichment-related work. It also calls for full transparency and for Iran to clarify several unanswered questions.

Iran insists it will not give up the right to develop its nuclear program, which it says is for the generation of electricity, not weapons.