SA delays UN move on Iran
South Africa proposed a last-minute change to a UN nuclear agency resolution rebuking Iran yesterday, throwing the meeting into confusion, diplomats said.
Six world powers put forward the draft text on Wednesday, aiming to increase diplomatic pressure on Teheran a day after Israel ramped up its threats to attack the Islamic republic.
Intended to signal big-power unity, and to criticise Iran for defying UN calls to curb its nuclear work - widely believed to include nuclear weapons development - the full 35-nation governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency had been expected to approve the text yesterday.
The proposed text says: "It is essential for Iran to immediately implement" a framework deal with the IAEA to clarify concern over possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme."
South Africa's amendment would add: "once it [the framework deal] has been concluded," a formulation Western diplomats said could dilute the pressure on Teheran.
The IAEA has tried in a series of high-profile meetings with Iran to agree on a "structured approach" on how to conduct its investigation. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said this week that no concrete results had been achieved, calling the lack of progress "frustrating".
The resolution can be approved by the board without South Africa's support but the powers are keen to ensure the widest possible backing.
If South Africa objects or abstains, other states might do the same, they say.
Washington says there is still time for diplomacy and sanctions.