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U.N. nuclear agency censures Iran

“This resolution is a historic mistake by those who designed it,” said Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

Associated Press

“This resolution is a historic mistake by those who designed it,” said Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh.

WASHINGTON — The United Nations nuclear watchdog's governing board voted overwhelmingly Friday to censure Iran for its defiant nuclear policies and demanded a halt to work on a uranium-enrichment plant built in secret in mountain tunnels south of the Iranian capital.

The declaration criticizing Iran — approved 25 to 3 by the 35-nation board, with six countries abstaining and one not present — was quickly condemned by Iranian officials who called the resolution "a historic mistake" and threatened to curtail its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The resolution represented a rare show of global solidarity against Iran's nuclear program, drawing support not only from Western powers but also from Russia and China.

"Our patience and that of the international community is limited," Glyn Davies, the U.S. envoy to the U.N. agency, said after the vote at the agency's Vienna headquarters. Obama administration officials had lobbied intensively to ensure strong backing for the resolution as a prelude to a possible fourth round of U.N. sanctions against the Islamic republic.

The largely symbolic resolution berates Iran for its continued defiance of U.N. resolutions that demand a halt to uranium enrichment and other activities that U.S. officials believe are aimed at developing nuclear weapons. The declaration is particularly critical of Iran's secret construction of a second enrichment plant inside mountain bunkers near the ancient city of Qom, southwest of Tehran.

Iran says it wants nuclear power only to make electricity.

Iran's representative to the U.N. agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, suggested that Iran would stop some of its voluntary cooperation with the agency, according to a report by the Fars news agency. "This resolution is a historic mistake by those who designed it," Soltanieh said.

Iran warns Norway in Nobel medal row

Iran summoned Norway's ambassador Friday and said the country had no right to criticize the Islamic Republic for confiscating Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi's medal. In Norway, where the peace prize is awarded, the government said the confiscation of the gold medal was a shocking first in the history of the 108-year-old prize. Ebadi said Thursday that authorities took the medal about three weeks ago from a safe-deposit box in Iran, claiming she owed taxes on the $1.3 million she was awarded. Ebadi says such prizes are exempt from tax under Iranian law. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, said Friday that Norway has no right to criticize Iran for enforcing its tax laws. He said Norwegian officials are trying to "justify ignorance and avoidance" of paying tax.

Associated Press

U.N. nuclear agency censures Iran 11/27/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 27, 2009 10:10pm]

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