World powers are close to overcoming their differences on what message the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will send to Iran when its board of governors meets Thursday, diplomats told AFP on Wednesday.
According to the reports, diplomats to the IAEA in Vienna were “close, but not there yet” to agreeing on a resolution amenable to all the main powers, including Russia and China.
One diplomat told AFP that the resolution “will call on Iran to intensify dialogue with the agency and comply fully with its obligations. It also calls on the director general to report in March on the status of the resolution.”
The diplomat added that the envoys were “guardedly optimistic” on reaching a deal.
Last week the IAEA issued a report which said it had credible intelligence that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons technology.
According to the report, the information “indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
The U.S., Britain and France have called to tighten the sanctions on Iran following the report, but China and Russia, who have commercial ties with Iran, have rejected this idea.
If the two sides fail to see eye to eye, one option could be an IAEA resolution passed without Russian and Chinese support, but diplomats told AFP they are keen to avoid such a split.
Meanwhile, speculation continues that Israel may attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. On Wednesday, the Knesset plenum debated the possibility of a strike against Iran. During the discussion, Minister Michael Eitan (Likud) said on behalf of the Prime Minister: "We will make every effort to enlist the international community, but Israel must make it clear that every option is on the table."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave an interview to PBS on Wednesday in which he called on the world, including Russia and China, to join hands and sanction Iran.
“If they join hands and explicitly tell them, ‘We are going to block any financial transactions with your central bank and any other financial institutions’ - that would push the Iranian leadership into a corner,” he said.
“I’m convinced that if such crippling sanctions would materialize, they [Iran] will have to stop,” Barak added. “But I have no illusions that that’s going to happen. The Chinese, the Russians and other countries, for their own reasons, feel that this would cause major damage and I understand why they think so.”
Asked about the possibility of a military strike on Iran, Barak replied, “We think that all means should be employed, while at the same time we recommend to our friends in the world not to remove any option from the table.”