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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 November, 2003, 20:25 GMT
US welcomes Iran nuclear report
Nuclear research reactor at Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation HQ
Iran says its nuclear programme is to meet energy needs only
The United States has voiced its support for a resolution by the United Nations nuclear watchdog censuring Iran for concealing its nuclear programme.

But Iran also welcomed the resolution, saying the decision not to refer its nuclear programme to the UN Security Council represented a victory.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution stops short of recommending sanctions against Iran.

It follows a compromise deal between the US and Europe.

Britain, France and Germany had opposed a move by Washington to have Tehran face possible sanctions over its nuclear programme.

The US accuses Iran of trying secretly to develop nuclear weapons - an allegation strongly denied by Tehran.

White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan told reporters: "We welcome that resolution and believe that it underscores the international community's serious concerns with Iran's nuclear activities and the urgent requirement of Iran to come into full compliance with nuclear non-proliferation obligations".

Find out more about key nuclear sites in Iran

Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said the resolution underlined the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activities and showed that its programme was honest and transparent.

"This resolution was an achievement for Iran and proved that Iran has followed its peaceful nuclear activities with transparency and truthfulness and that, despite all the fuss made by some arrogant circles, it was not trying to produce and obtain nuclear arms," he said in a statement faxed to Reuters news agency.

BBC Tehran correspondent Jim Muir says that, although Iran is not happy with some of the language of the resolution, it essentially got what it wanted when it decided to come clean, stop uranium enrichment activities and sign up for tougher inspections.

'Serious and ominous'

The resolution, adopted by consensus by the 35-nation board of governors of the IAEA, followed days of intensive negotiations between the US and the Europeans over how to respond to Tehran.

The head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, warned that any further Iranian failure to co-operate would not be tolerated.

Should any further serious Iranian failures come to light, the board of governors would consider... all options at its disposal

He said it was a "serious and ominous" message to Iran that it must comply with its nuclear obligations in the future.

Mr ElBaradei said he would report early next year on Iran's compliance.

The resolution "welcomes Iran's offer of co-operation and openness" but also "strongly deplores" Tehran's past cover-up of its nuclear activities and calls for a "particularly robust verification system" .

It warns against "further serious Iranian failures", saying that could lead the IAEA to consider all options at its disposal - shorthand, correspondents say, for Security Council action.

Mr ElBaradei said the international community had stood as one to address an issue with major implications.

"It's a good day for peace, a good day for multilateralism and a good day for non-proliferation," he told a news conference after the vote.

There was much work to be done before the IAEA could conclude whether Iran's nuclear programme was purely peaceful, he said.

Negotiations

The IAEA had admonished Iran for concealing aspects of its nuclear programme for nearly two decades and a recent report from the agency said Tehran had been secretly enriching uranium and producing plutonium.

Washington originally rejected a draft resolution put forward by Europe as too weak - insisting it should contain a threat of action by the UN Security Council.

However, Britain, Germany and France were concerned that this might alienate Iran, which has shown increased co-operation with the IAEA in recent weeks.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Washington said that, despite America's concession, the resolution was still harder on the Iranians than France, Britain and Germany had wanted.

The European countries originally called on Iran to continue its commitment to open its nuclear facilities to strict IAEA scrutiny.

The Iranians say their nuclear programme is designed to meet the country's energy needs only.

Although the IAEA says Tehran has breached nuclear safeguards for almost two decades, it also said there was no evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Bethany Bell
"This deal strongly deplores Iran's past failures and breaches of it's obligations"



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