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IAEA to Soften Iran Rebuke, Stress Need for Peaceful Deal

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Sept. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations’ atomic agency may reiterate concern about Iran’s nuclear program while calling for a peaceful resolution to the dispute over the Persian Gulf nation’s atomic work, which has drawn Israeli threats of military intervention.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-member board of governors will vote on whether to adopt the two-page resolution this week in Vienna. The so-called P5+1 nations -- China, France, Russia, the U.K., the U.S. and Germany -- drafted the document today.

The declaration expresses “serious concern” about Iran’s defiance of UN Security Council orders that it suspend its atomic work. At the same time, it recognizes Iran’s “inalienable right” to nuclear technology.

It will be the 12th IAEA board resolution passed on the Islamic Republic since agency inspectors began their investigation in 2003. Neither the documents nor dozens of international sanctions have stopped Iran from stockpiling thousands of kilograms of enriched uranium, the key ingredient for nuclear power and atomic bombs. Iran maintains it wants the technology exclusively for peaceful purposes.

The latest IAEA resolution uses weaker language than the last declaration, issued in November, to signal worry about Iran’s nuclear program. The current draft doesn’t mention the “deep and increasing concern” over Iran’s work that the board expressed before.

‘Intensification’

The document “expresses continued support for a peaceful resolution of the international community’s concerns, which could best be achieved through a constructive diplomatic process.” The powers called for an “intensification” of the P5+1’s negotiations with Iran.

Iran and the P5+1 failed to reach a breakthrough during negotiations in Moscow in June. The European Union, which is leading the discussions, and the Persian Gulf state haven’t yet agreed on a next round of high-level talks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that the administration of President Barack Obama has no “moral right” to keep Israel from attacking as long as the U.S. doesn’t set its own “red lines” for Iran. His remarks reflect differences within his government about an Israeli attack on Iran and a bid to pressure Obama less than two months before U.S. elections.

Appeasing Russia?

The resolution’s milder language may have been written to satisfy Russian concerns about a strike on Iran. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said an attack would be disastrous for the region and that he’d seen no evidence Iran was working on a nuclear weapon.

“Russia believes the IAEA is being manipulated by Western countries,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, an analyst at the Moscow-based Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. “This means it is very unlikely now to be possible to reach a compromise over the Iranian nuclear dossier. Everyone is now waiting for an Israeli strike.”

UN nuclear inspectors probing Iran must resist being used by special interests intent on spinning facts to fit their theories about what is happening inside the Persian Gulf nation, former IAEA chief Hans Blix said.

“The agency is there to be completely impartial and fact-finding,” he said today in an interview in Geneva. “There is always an interest in various quarters that the facts should be such that it supports their tenets.”

Blix said he sees similarities between Iran’s nuclear file and Iraq ’s preceding the 2003 U.S.-led invasion. While the U.S. staged the attack to eliminate Saddam Hussein’s nuclear-weapons program, subsequent investigations inside Iraq confirmed IAEA reports that the program had been dismantled before the invasion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Tirone in Vienna at jtirone@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Hertling at jhertling@bloomberg.net

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