The United States has dropped its demand that the United Nations atomic watchdog declare Iran in violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, despite its belief that Tehran wants to build an atomic bomb, Western diplomats said Saturday.
After two days of talks, the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency’s 35-member Board of Governors on Friday adjourned until Wednesday to give diplomats a chance to revise a French, German and British draft resolution condemning Iran’s 18-year concealment of sensitive nuclear research.
But Western diplomats said informal talks continued Saturday between Washington and the capitals of the European Union’s “big three” to toughen up the trio’s proposal, two drafts of which the Americans have rejected as too weak.
“Talks are definitely ongoing, though much of the discussion is taking place in the capitals,” a Western diplomat said.
Diplomats said U.S. officials had given up their demand for an explicit reference to Iran’s past noncompliance with its nuclear treaty obligations and for Tehran to be reported to the U.N. Security Council, which could choose to impose economic sanctions.
“I think the U.S. will accept a resolution without an explicit reference to noncompliance,” another diplomat said.
Diplomats told Reuters that U.S. negotiators early last week had abandoned their demand that Iran be reported to the Security Council when it became apparent only four other Board of Governors members -- Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand -- would back such a move.
In exchange, diplomats close to the talks said the United States, which is convinced Iran wants nuclear weapons, was now helping Britain, France and Germany revise the resolution to include a timetable to keep pressure on Iran to cooperate.
The French, British and Germans want to encourage Iran to continue with its stated policy of fully cooperating with the IAEA rather than punish it for past failures.
Diplomats said Germany especially feared that too harsh a resolution would backfire and cause Iran to stop cooperating with the U.N.
In October, Iran gave the IAEA what it said was a full and accurate declaration of its nuclear program and said it had no more nuclear secrets to disclose.
Tehran admits that it had covered up the full extent of its atomic program but denies wanting to manufacture nuclear bombs.