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Tuesday, November 22, 2005 

US and EU-3 Slow Down Iran Referral Threat

VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Washington and its European allies will forgo pushing for Iran's referral to the U.N. Security Council later this week, giving Russia more time in persuading Tehran to give up technology that could make nuclear arms, diplomats and officials told The Associated Press on Monday.

For the Americans and the European Union, the plan holds the promise of success even if Iran continues to reject the proposal that would move its uranium enrichment program to Russia. The acceptance of that plan, in theory, would deprive the Iranians of the chance to enrich uranium to weapons grade, suitable for use in the core of nuclear warheads.

But if the Russians fail to win over the Iranians, Washington and the Europeans hope Moscow and other key board members of the International Atomic Energy Agency now opposed to Security Council referral will moderate their opposition. Before the board meeting, the Americans have begun to draft a resolution setting a timetable for Iran to accept the plan involving enrichment on Russian soil and related issues - and threatening with Security Council referral unless those conditions were met, the diplomats and officials said.

Building another case for war, or simply exercising diplomacy? Part of this has to do with the fact that Belarus, Cuba, and Syria have joined Venezuela on the IAEA board, and thus will make any vote on Iran a political battle having little to do with the actual issue at hand (instead, it would become an anti-US agenda battle). The next few weeks (perhaps months) will show if Tehran is willing to use this “out” to diffuse the mounting crisis.